Listen to the Playlist That Influenced Artist Bakpak Durden’s Playground Detroit Exhibition

The Detroit artist’s “I Feel Like I’ve Been Here Before,” which opened to the public last month, explores perspective and intersectional identity.

In The Groove is CultureShift’s award-winning series that talks with creatives from all walks of life about the music that has influenced them the most starting when they were just a kid.

Through their artwork, Bakpak Durden wants to invite people into their place.

The painter, whose work revolves around their lived experience shaped by race, gender and mental and physical health, often chooses themselves as a model or a subject in their hyperrealistic work. When asked why, they say the easy answer is because they’re available, but it goes beyond that.

“It’s also a means to not project my own feelings or emotions on to another person or being. So I’m trying to invite people to place themselves in my place,” says Durden, whose adopted first name goes back to their teenage days shopping at Burn Rubber in Royal Oak where the workers nicknamed them “Backpack.”

Durden’s solo exhibition I Feel Like I’ve Been Here Before, which opened to the public last month at Playground Detroit, explores perspective, neurodivergence and intersectional identity. The series of paintings takes a look at specific experiences that people face to maintain a sense of “normalcy.”

Durden shared some tracks that influenced the exhibition.

“I just love music, first and foremost,” Durden says.

Listen: Bakpak Durden shares their playlist.

The Death – “The Change”

Durden says the Detroit-based rock band The Death, blended different styles, “taking something and making it better, different.” The track “The Change” is a nod to someone who is very important to them.

Alt-J – Tesselate

The British indie rock band makes “music about movies, art history, and then weaves in math and science. And little gems and secrets. I love all of it. That’s what I do.”

Tkay Maidza — Where Is My Mind

The Australian singer-rapper’s synth-driven cover of The Pixies’ alternative rock classic “Where Is My Mind?” reminds Durden of the movie “Fight Club.” “And I love ‘Fight Club.’”

Moses Sumney — Cut Me

For Durden, Moses Sumney’s latest album “was everything.” “It touched on multiplicity, of gender queerness, Blackness, mental health — all the things that I tried to focus in on my own work.”

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  • Ryan Patrick Hooper
    Ryan Patrick Hooper is the award-winning host of "In the Groove" on 101.9 WDET-FM Detroit’s NPR station. Hooper has covered stories for the New York Times, NPR, Detroit Free Press, Hour Detroit, SPIN and Paste magazine.