High Celebrates Radcliffe Bailey Exhibition with Film Series
ATLANTA, June 29, 2011
– The High Museum of Art will present a series of films in coordination with artist Radcliffe Bailey’s new exhibition, “Memory as Medicine.” Showing from Saturday, July 23, through Saturday, August 13, the series will include “Kinshasa Symphony,” “Space is the Place,” “Strange Fruit” and “Return to Gorée.” This program was selected by Carol Thompson, the High’s Fred and Rita Richman Curator of African Art, in conversation with the artist. It is presented in conjunction with “Radcliffe Bailey: Memory as Medicine,” on view June 26 through September 11, 2011. This series is titled after Manthia Diawara’s essay in the catalogue that accompanies this exhibition.
“This film series focuses on music as a transcendent art form, an important source of inspiration to Radcliffe’s art,” said Carol Thompson, coordinator of the film series and curator of the exhibition. “We are pleased to showcase these four films in conjunction with Memory as Medicine. Radcliffe’s work has many layers. These films add yet another layer, through another medium, further enhancing understanding of his art. This film program is dedicated to the memory of Linda Dubler, the High Museum’s former curator of media arts, who for many decades worked tirelessly to bring the best of world cinema to Atlanta audiences.”
The film series begins on Saturday, July 23, with directors’ Claus Wischmann’s and Martin Baer’s “Kinshasa Symphony.” This inspiring film follows Central Africa’s only symphony orchestra, Orchestre Symphonique Kimbanguiste of Kinshasa, as it prepares for a major concert to mark the anniversary of independence of the former Zaire. This film reveals how skillful musicians of diverse backgrounds exceed all expectations as they create a complex joint endeavor in one of the world’s most challenging urban environments. The musicians’ devotion to their art encompasses both performing and building their own musical instruments. Radcliffe Bailey shares a similar passion for both music and the instruments that make it, and he incorporates the beautiful curving form of the upright bass as well as actual trumpets and trombones into his art. (2010, 95 minutes.) In French and Lingala with subtitles.
Showing on Saturday, July 30, is performance documentary turned narrative film “Space is the Place.” Sun Ra—free-jazz keyboardist/space-age prophet and the star of the film—is one of Radcliffe Bailey’s favorite musicians. In this film, Sun Ra and his spaceship land in Oakland, having been presumed lost in space. With Black Power on the rise and the fate of the Black race at stake, Sun Ra disembarks from his spaceship and proclaims himself the “alter-destiny,” with a mission to rescue and redeem his people. “Space is the Place” is a portrait of the complex persona and “cosmic” philosophies that made Sun Ra a pioneer of afro-futurism. (1974, 82 minutes.) In English.
Weaving together jazz genealogy, biography, performance footage and the history of lynching, director Joel Katz’s “Strange Fruit” presents a fascinating discovery of the lost story behind a true American classic. Showing on Saturday, August 6, the film tells a dramatic story of America’s past by placing one of the most influential protest songs ever written at its center. While many people assume “Strange Fruit” was written by Billie Holiday herself, it actually began as a poem by a Jewish schoolteacher and union activist from the Bronx, who later set it to music. Disturbed by a photograph of a lynching, the teacher wrote the stark verse and brooding melody under the pseudonym Lewis Allan in 1938. The song was quickly adopted as the anthem for the anti-lynching movement. Holiday performed it until her death in 1959. The haunting lyric and melody made it impossible for white Americans and politicians to continue to ignore the Southern campaign of racist terror. The documentary includes a moving recitation of the lyric by Abbey Lincoln and a powerful musical performance by Cassandra Wilson, but it’s the footage of Lady Day herself performing her bitter and heart-wrenching signature song—also a source of inspiration to Bailey’s art—that anchors the film. (2002, 57 minutes.) In English. Theophus "Thee" Smith, Associate Professor of Religion at Emory University will lead a discussion following this film.
The series closes on Saturday, August 13, with “Return to Gorée.” A musical road movie, “Return to Gorée” follows Senegalese singer Youssou N’Dour’s epic journey tracing the Black Atlantic voyage made by enslaved Africans and the jazz music they created. N’Dour travels across the United States and Europe on a mission to take a jazz repertoire back to Africa. He performs a concert in Gorée, the island that today symbolizes the slave trade and commemorates its victims. Accompanied by some of the world’s most exceptional musicians, N’Dour’s band creates, through concerts, encounters and debates, music that transcends cultural division. From Atlanta to New Orleans, and from New York to Dakar through Luxembourg, these songs are transformed, immersed in jazz and gospel. (2006, 108 minutes.) In English and French with subtitles. Film Series Schedule
Unless otherwise noted, all films begin at 8 p.m. and are screened in the Richard H. Rich Theatre. The theatre is located in the Memorial Arts Building, adjacent to the High at Peachtree and 15th Streets in midtown Atlanta.
Saturday, July 23
“Space is the Place”
Saturday, July 30
Saturday, August 6
“Return to Gorée”
Saturday, August 13Support
This program is made possible through the collaboration between artist Radcliffe Bailey and Carol Thompson, the High’s Fred and Rita Richman Curator of African Art. Tickets
To purchase tickets in advance, go to www.High.org
, visit the Woodruff Arts Center Box Office or call 404-733-5000. Tickets for all shows are $7 general admission and $6 for students, seniors and Museum members. Patron-level members enter free. Tickets may also be purchased at the door on the night of the screening. To purchase advance tickets visit www.High.org
, visit the Woodruff Center Box Office, or call 404-733-5000. Film Information
For up-to-date information visit us online at www.High.org
. All programs are subject to change or cancellation. High Museum of Art
The High Museum of Art, founded in 1905 as the Atlanta Art Association, is the leading art museum in the southeastern United States. With more than 12,000 works of art in its permanent collection, the High Museum of Art has an extensive anthology of 19th- and 20th-century American and decorative art; significant holdings of European paintings; a growing collection of African American art; and burgeoning collections of modern and contemporary art, photography and African art. The High is also dedicated to supporting and collecting works by Southern artists and is distinguished as the only major museum in North America to have a curatorial department specifically devoted to the field of folk and self-taught art. The High’s media arts department produces acclaimed annual film series and festivals of foreign, independent and classic cinema. In November 2005, the High opened three new buildings by architect Renzo Piano that more than doubled the Museum’s size, creating a vibrant “village for the arts” at the Woodruff Arts Center in Midtown Atlanta. For more information about the High, please visit www.High.org
. The Woodruff Arts Center
The Woodruff Arts Center is ranked among the top four arts centers in the nation. The Woodruff is unique in that it combines four visual and performing arts divisions on one campus as one not-for-profit organization. Opened in 1968, the Woodruff Arts Center is home to the Alliance Theatre, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the High Museum of Art and Young Audiences. To learn more about the Woodruff Arts Center, please visit www.woodruffcenter.org
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