a note from Bamuthi

Posted in Uncategorized | March 15, 2011 | by emilyharney | (1) Comment

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i am wishing you all in chicago with me right now…
Theaster’s  iteration of urban development embodies the principles that we seek to manifest with Life is Living, and through red, black and GREEN: a blues.

read this  for deeper context:
Regarding the rbGb set…think Legos. Large, repurposed wood puzzle pieces that assemble and reassemble in the shape of different structures that are linked to the piece’s geography. Chicago architectural geometry, Houston’s row houses, New York’s brownstone stoops, California coastline…

Trace a narrative that encompasses the building and deconstruction of these archetypal frames…

With each reconstruction we also fashion a different projection surface(s), in a different physical location on stage, in a different shape, perhaps with video cut to match the unique shape of corresponding structures…flat like the earth next to water, tall and tetris, like the negative space in chicago’s skylines…

Think redeemed wood…built in hydraulics…built in speakers… pull out drawers that hide a potter’s wheel or a surface for tapping or surface for drumming.

pictures soon…
much love

When it’s time, it’s time

Posted in Uncategorized | February 11, 2011 | by emilyharney | Leave a Comment

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A couple of impressionistic videos from Marc Bamuthi Joseph‘s recent residency at the University of North Carolina where he and creative collaborators Theaster Gates and Eli Jacob’s Fantauzzi spent a week interacting with students and working on the visual look and feel of red, black and GREEN: a blues.

At UNC these were used as “backdrops” for poetry performance, but even on their own they highlight a key element of this new work—the strength of individual stories, grounded in community and place, to express the inherent VALUE of LIFE. And the role of the artistic production in highlighting juxtaposing these multiple stories to create something that is more than the sum of its parts.

On a day when the people of Egypt have taken their future into their own hands by strength of will, and yet environmental regulations continue to be besieged in our own Congress, Theaster’s words resonate. When it’s time, it’s time.

the holy grail: a new, diverse audience

Posted in Uncategorized | July 1, 2009 | by Joyce Lawler | (17) Comments

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It’s not the first time we’ve heard grim news about declining audiences for the arts, nor the first time we’ve heard that a presenting venue hopes a particular artist can be the key that unlocks the door to a new, more diverse audience.  But something about the confluence of these two items makes us wonder: is the voice and vision of a new and different artist enough not only get those bodies into the seats, but to keep them there?  As The Washington Post reported last week:

The National Endowment for the Arts also released new data yesterday showing that fewer adults were choosing an art museum or a visual arts festival as a leisure-time destination. From 1992 to 2001, 26 percent of adults reported that they visited such attractions, but the number for 2008 dropped to 23 percent.

In addition, the agency noted sizable declines between 1982 (when it first started documenting arts participation) and 2008 in almost every performing arts field. It reported double-digit rates of decline for classical music, jazz, opera, musical theater, ballet and dramatic plays.

Then there’s this, from Misha Berson’s thoughtful (and glowing) Seattle Times review of Marc Bamuthi Joseph’s the break/s at ACT Theater:

Bamuthi is too sophisticated and analytical [a] performer to apply simplistic parameters to the many aesthetic, sociological and psychological concerns he raises in his engrossing show. And he’s well aware that much of ACT Theatre’s largely white, over-40 audience don’t know hip-hop from a hole in the wall.

Introducing it on opening night, Valerie Curtis-Newton (the director of ACT’s Lorraine Hansberry Project, which is presenting “the break/s”) called the piece “a bridge” to “a new audience.”

Bamuthi may or may not draw the younger, more racially diverse crowd ACT hopes for, but you don’t have to know who Jay-Z is to be fascinated by Joseph’s theatrical memoir-slash-travelogue.

The universal themes embedded in the spoken word and rhythms of the break/s will undoubtedly touch many who “don’t know hip-hop from a hole in the wall.”  But will it bring in the people who DO know hip-hop?  What will be there for that “new audience” after Bamuthi’s month-long run closes?  Given the distressing statistics quoted above,  it’s a question that deserves consideration.

What do you think?

Final Performance at Walker Art Center

Posted in Uncategorized | October 27, 2008 | by emilyharney | (2) Comments

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