Step into the Opening Rituals of the 2019 Screening Scholarship Media Festival at the University of Pennsylvania, a CAMRA-organized festival supported in part by the Center for Experimental Ethnography. This year's opening features a collaborative, interactive ritual performance with Aimee Cox (Center for Experimental Ethnography Faculty Fellow 2019), Saya Woolfalk (New York) and Daniel Alexander (Mellon Foundation Creative Research Fellow at the University of Washington ) and coordinated by Aishah Shahidah Simmons. The artists discussed their process during a panel the following day. They addressed issues related to improvisation, and questions of spirituality and identity, movement and mobility.
The Screening Scholarship Media Festival (SSMF) provides a creative, collaborative space to explore the affordances and challenges of multimodal strategies in research, and to interrogate their social implications. SSMF is a hybrid between a traditional academic conference and a film/media festival. The 2019 SSMF features works rendering matters of concern and the present histories of: Indigenous people; Persons under any form of detention; Diasporic communities; LGBTQ+ collectives; and environments in conflict.
The Center’s official launch party was held on February 15th, 2019. It began in Widener Auditorium at the Penn Museum with the screenings of student films from CEE Faculty Fellow Louis Massiah’s class, "Films of Utility."
Massiah is the founder and director of Scribe Video Center in Philadelphia. He is an award-winning documentary filmmaker whose innovative approach to documentary filmmaking and community media have earned him numerous honors, including a MacArthur Fellowship “genius” grant, 1996-2001, two Rockefeller/Tribeca fellowships, and a Pew Fellowship in the Arts. In addition to his many film honors, he was recently charged with creating the film archive for the new Musée des Civilisations Noirs in Dakar, Senegal.
The launch party then moved to the Upper Egypt gallery for a reception and performances. These performances included a duet by Aimee Cox and Director Deborah Thomas; a performance of the newly released song “Hurricane,” by Vince Anthony (more on him below) and Bridget Ramsey; a bit of juggling by graduate student Juan Castrillon (Music), accompanied on drums by graduate student Jake Nussbaum (Anthropology); some spoken word and rap by former graduate student Osei Alleyne (Anthropology, now at University of the Arts); a rumba band, and a DJ. You can view a “trailer” of the performances here.
The Center supports course development, and this year we offered a grant to Guthrie
Ramsey’s upper level seminar “The Music Industry Meets Activism,” an interactive course that explores the relationship between the popular music industry and the sound-worlds it comes from and returns to. It places the business of music in dialogue with various forms of historical and contemporary activism with an emphasis on Philadelphia. Through case studies, students learn how the industry generates and manages its various revenue streams. Students also witness how music can operate as a living activity that galvanizes and creates community and social bonds through industry and on-the-ground local networks.
In addition to readings and discussion, students visited two performance venues, had several in-
class visits from artists and industry professionals, organized a performance, and most important, engaged with an artist-in-residence (Vince Anthony), a local singer/songwriter/ producer who attended every class. As students learned about the functions of a management team and record label, they acted as a team to write press kits, develop artistic statements, build a social media campaign, plan and execute a music video shoot, and understand the role of contemporary radio in music promotion. Students also visited, interacted with, and learned about four local activist organizations: the Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz and Performing Arts, OURchive, the One Art Community Center, and Musiqology Rx.
Students reported that they enjoyed learning about the music industry from many
angles—theoretically, practically and historically, and that they had been particularly excited to
interact with living artists and producers who shared their insights from their varied
perspectives. The artists reported that they felt it was invaluable to have been exposed to
academic discussions each week, because it afforded them a type of discourse and focus that they find hard to come by in the daily grind of hustling resources to make and market their art.
Listen to more of Vince Anthony's works on Soundcloud.
Learn more about Prof. Guthrie Ramsey's work in the Department of Music.
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