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LAXART is pleased to present a dialogue between filmmaker Cauleen Smith and art historian and curator Rhea Anastas. How—right now, today—can we care for everyday social life in the U.S.? In taking up this question in terms of the here and now of practice, Smith and Anastas will discuss two areas of recent work by the filmmaker. A film drawn from Smith’s research on the influence of the music and life of Alice Coltrane (1937-2007) will be discussed alongside Smith’s activist works, presenting a multiplicity of work rooted in Chicago, where Smith has lived since 2011. These works differ in their effects, taking on the locations (public sites, the street, the worldwide web) and functions of activism (being loud, using your body, making informal networks for self-education, and information dissemination). The films include LESSONS IN SEMAPHORE (2013), a digitized 16mm film and HUMAN_3.0 READING LIST (2016), an iphone film of Smith’s essential readings as drawings. Smith’s GWENDOLYN BROOKS BANNERS for The Black Love Procession: Conduct Your Blooming (2016) takes a passage from the eponymous poet’s The Second Sermon on the Warpland and mobilizes it as a renegade procession through Bronzeville, a historically black Chicago neighborhood. Simultaneously a work of performance and activism, Smith’s renegade procession responded to a controversial exhibition presented at a gallery in Bronzeville that staged a scene of the 2014 shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Smith and Anastas will focus on these projects of Smith’s as a way of talking to and along with other modes of praxis, including the Black Lives Matter movement and other efforts to recognize the systemic violence against black lives in the U.S. context; and/or broader initiatives to advance a national discourse and set of policy proposals against race and class oppression. Smith was awarded the 2016 Alpert Award in visual art and was the first recipient of The Ellsworth Kelly Award from the Foundation for Contemporary Art, given to the artist for Give It Or Leave It, a solo exhibition linked to The Warplands by research and a book. Give It Or Leave It is forthcoming at the Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania in 2018.
About the Artist:
Smith is known for a group of influential films and videos, moving image installations and objects with connections to experimental film and third world cinema; structuralism and science fiction. A California native, Smith was born in Riverside, grew up in Sacramento and was educated at San Francisco State University (BA) and the University of California, Los Angeles (MFA, Film). Recent films, such as Crow Requiem and The Way Out Is the Way To, move between Smith’s active study of multiple histories and archives (avant-garde, African-American histories and improvisational music), and Smith’s response to recent and ongoing violence against people of color at the hands of the state.
This program is co-presented with the University Art Galleries, University of California, Irvine, where Cauleen Smith’s exhibition, The Warplands, opens January 14, 2017, curated by Rhea Anastas.