In partnership with Old First Concerts, Cinematheque is proud to present two programs celebrating the work and legacy of composer Julius Eastman. Join us on Sunday, January 13 at Old First Church for a special program of music by Julius Eastman—programmed by pianist and composer Luciano Chessa—featuring performances by Chessa (piano & voice), Sarah Cahill (piano), Regina Myers (piano), Chris Brown (piano), Kevin Baum (baritone) and Richard Mix (bass). Complete information and tickets here.
Queer African-American avant-garde composer, pianist, vocalist and conductor, Julius Eastman (1940–1990) wrote and performed compositions whose ecstatic militant minimalism initiated a black radical aesthetic that revolutionized the East Coast new music scene of the 1970s and 1980s. While engaging passionately and actively in avant-garde musical circles of his day, Eastman faced racist and homophobic opposition throughout his career. No recordings of Eastman’s compositions were released during his lifetime and he died destitute in 1990 at age 49. Notably, Eastman faced aggressive censorship on the occasion of a 1980 performance at Northwestern University (Evanston, IL) when the titles of his compositions Crazy Nigger (1978), Evil Nigger (1979) and Gay Guerrilla (1979) were literally redacted from concert programs, prompting an eloquent pre-concert statement presented by Eastman prior to the concert. The Third Part of the Third Measure (2017), by British collective The Otolith Group, features verbatim performances by Dante Micheaux and Elaine Mitchener of Eastman’s statement while celebrating the complex ecstasy of Eastman’s music.
“The Third Part of the Third Measure focuses on ‘an experience of watching in the key of listening,’ invoking political feelings of defiance and the collective practice of movement-building that participates in the global struggles against neoreactionary authoritarianism. The Third Part of the Third Measure invites viewers to attend to exemplary ecstatic aesthetics of black radicalism that Eastman himself once described as ‘full of honor, integrity, and boundless courage.’” (e-flux)
ALSO SCREENING are The Otolith Group’s Be Silent, For The Ears Of God Are Everywhere (2006), a work exploring the demand for post-political safe spaces as voiced in the visual culture of record sleeves and Cauleen Smith’s Entitled (2008) on the legacy of turn-of-the-century still life painter Charles Ethan Porter.
The Otolith Group is an award-winning collaboration whose practice spans the moving image, audio, performance, installation, and research. Founded in 2002 by the artists and theorists Anjalika Sagar and Kodwo Eshun, the group engages with the cultural and political legacies and potentialities of non-aligned movements, new media, Black Study, Afrofuturism, and Indofuturism while thinking speculatively with science fictions of the present. Their methodologies incorporate post-lens-based essayistic aesthetics that explore the temporal anomalies, anthropic inversions and synthetic alienation of the posthuman, the inhuman, the non-human, and the anti-human. (e-flux)