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Improvisation in the Arts: A Symposium
Date: December 02, 2014 from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm EST
Location: Morningside Campus
Romare Bearden constantly made the color he constantly looked for. His collages mirrored and enacted what critic Laura Harris calls the aesthetics of black social life, moving against the brutalities of removal and enclosure that structure global black experience and, therefore, the modern world. A Black Odyssey refers, though, not only to Afro-diasporic travel and travail but also to an anoriginary movement of in the art of the West that blackness has come to signify—the polyrhythmic, oral-formulaic, insurgent innovation that was also Homer’s home away from home. In this panel, a multi-disciplinary group of artists and scholars will sit in with Bearden, gathering with and around his Odyssean practice, his restless, wandering devotion to the scrap, the fragment, the musical moment, and his abiding in and with the imagination, whose enduring philosophical racialization renders it both disposable and appropriable. The intensity of Bearden’s commitment to the aesthetic contact and content of black social life in its broadest dimensions will serve as an impetus for a wide-ranging discussion of the protocols and implications of improvisation in music, literature, theology, cinema, dance and critical theory. Along with Bearden and, most importantly, the audience, the panel hopes to form a new experimental band.
From Chios to 125th Street: Toward a Black Odysseus
Date: December 04, 2014 from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm EST
Location: Medical Center
By painting a black Odyssey, Romare Bearden connected the desire of African American people to return home with Homer’s epic. In Bearden’s art, the Odyssey is linked to the Freedom Riders, the Underground Railroad, Marcus Garvey's steamship line, and Rosa Parks on a Mobile bus. Regardless of whether or not they knew Bearden, filmmakers have also united Homer and American blacks. In John Sayles’ The Brother from Another Planet (1984), an alien played by the African American actor Joe Morton lands in Harlem and spends the rest of the film trying to return to his home planet. Joel and Ethan Coen’s O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000), directly based on the Odyssey, has key black characters, one of whom resembles Homer himself. There are also Homeric references in the Coen’s Inside Llewyn Davis (2013), including a black cat named Ulysses. To ground a black Odyssey within larger cinematic traditions, we will also watch scenes from Godard’s Le mépris (Contempt) (1963), in which a director seeks to make a film of the Odyssey, Joseph Strick’s Ulysses (1967), based on James Joyce’s novel, and of course, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968).
Tell Me a Story: Family Day
Date: December 06, 2014 from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm EST
Location: New York (NY), Schermerhorn Hall, Morningside Campus, Medical Center, Off Campus: NYC
Readings on Bearden themed children books, interactive jazz musical performances and family gallery tours of the Romare Bearden: A Black Odyssey
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