I had read tons of literary works and yet could find none where Black queer love was front and center, or present in the cultural or historical landscape prior to the Harlem Renaissance of the 20th century. Where I did find references, it was only in the context of sexual assault or some other form of depravity. And my question was: What about love? — Robert Jones, Jr.
Phil has written sonatas for other instruments before, but this would be his first for the piano. I imagined how much he would pour into it given that the piano is the instrument he has spent a lifetime playing (at home and on countless tours). However, Phil is not an artist to let the potential of a “first” be tethered to what is known. His exuberance came from writing something that would far surpass what he could play, or be able to entirely hear on the instrument itself beyond imagining it as the composer. There would need to be someone who could bring the music to life and bridge the musical space between themselves, the audience and the composer.
In spring of 2019, Philip Glass sent Namekawa the score for the sonata, and the following summer the two longtime collaborators premiered the work at the Klavier-FestivalRuhr. The piece made its American debut in November of that year at the Morgan Library andMuseum in New York City.
This weekend, UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance (CAP UCLA)—in association with ArsElectronica in Linz—will stream a prerecorded performance by Namekawa of the piece. Also on the program: Mozart Camargo Guarnieri’s Sonatina No. 3 in G-clef (1937), Alban Berg’s PianoSonata, Op. 1 (1907-1908), and György Ligeti’s Musica Ricercata.
On the 27th of November, 2020, more than 300 artists, intellectuals, and Cuban citizens presented themselves at the Ministry of Culture to demand the government follow through on their supposed commitment to freedom and civil rights. This protest came as a result of police violence exerted the previous day against members of the San Isidro Movement—an activist group who over the course of the past few years has been vocal in demanding greater freedom of expression in Cuba. Using social media as a tool to bring awareness to their cause, they have sparked renewed attention and urgency in calling for an end to government censorship and repression against all artists, intellectuals, and activists in Cuba. This community adopted the name 27N and together have staged peaceful protests asking for freedom of artistic expression in the face of government repression.*
This week, MOCA Los Angeles will host a virtual panel with artist and activist Tania Bruguera and other members of the 27N. See link below to register.
The official-artistic career of Frida Orupabodeveloped out of the digital world of algorithms: she was working as a social worker for sex workers and victims forced into prostitution when Arthur Jafa came across her Instagram account @nemiepebathree years ago. It is certainly not a convenient aesthetic that operates Orupabo’s feed and that ultimately led her to the Venice Biennalein 2019, but rather a relentless confrontation with omnipresent historical and simultaneously contemporary sociological problems: gender, racism, post-colonialism, violence, identity. Since 2013 the Norwegian-Nigerian artist has collected almost archivally authentic visual evidence distributed in popular media, amongst them photographic and film records of colonial violence and images of women.*
A show of recent work by Orupabo is on view in Vienna through the end of this week.