NAVEL began in 2014 when a group of friends, Caspar Boehme, Kristoffer Josefsson and Jonas Wendelin, initiated the renovation of our space in Downtown Los Angeles (a former IBM server room facility), with the intention of exploring togetherness and collaborative practices. From 2014-2017, accolades and collaborators contributed greatly to the embellishment and energy of the space, and many local and visiting international artists, architects, academics, and other creatives had the opportunity to test out and exhibit their projects. From this collaborative spirit, experiment, work, and love, NAVEL was born.
From 2016-2017, NAVEL also incubated different initiatives including NAVEL.live, an exploration of VR-broadcasting revisiting the formats, hierarchies, and aesthetics of the media industry, and FOAM, a geospatial protocol technology on the blockchain.
In 2017, Michael Holt and Amanda Vincelli joined NAVEL and began a private rental program in order to sustain operations and fund a wide range of events, performances, and exhibitions.
In May 2018, we co-founded the collectively-driven non-profit cultural organization we are today. We began by launching our Collective Residency, inviting over 60 local and international artists, curators, scientists, technologists, and activists to have access to our space, equipment, and resources at no cost for a period of 1 or 2 years while actively influencing our mission and programs, diversifying the voices and perspectives represented at NAVEL.
Since May 2018, we have also facilitated over 150 free or low-cost programs developed by programming committees and sourced via an open calls and ongoing collaborations with partner organizations. These events and programs have attracted thousands of guests and involved hundreds of participants. Highlights include the Queer Biennial, the world premiere of “Position 3” by Spenser Theberge and Jermaine Spivey, a co-production with CalArts School of Dance, and Making Kin, a group exhibition with screening and talk by Donna Haraway, named one of 2018’s best international art programs by Artforum Magazine.
In early 2019, noticing that our space was still underutilized and desiring to create a space for a more sustained engagement with a topic, project or practice, we launched ASSEMBLIES, where learning happens together through the exchange of ideas, traditions, and experience. ASSEMBLIES was instigated and developed by Amanda Vincelli. The first quarter of ASSEMBLIES ran in Spring 2019 and supported 10 learning groups chosen from 27 proposals. Since 2019, NAVEL has supported 30 ASSEMBLIES, engaging nearly 300 organizers and participants, with such topics as anti-colonial media and technology, Black ethics in rap music, the future of labor, the aesthetics and politics of artificial intelligence, revolutionary wealth redistribution, and more.