A conversation about everything between
CEE Fellows Emily Carris and Wayne Modest
Since we were unable to converse publicly at SSMF this spring, we convened online to hear from our Spring 2020 CEE Fellows on the topics of love, joy, laughter, being black today, materiality, and the urgencies of our contemporary condition...
The Documentaries & the Law lecture series on Media and the First Amendment, sponsored by Stephanie Abrutyn L’91, will consider the impact of the first amendment in documentaries and modern media.
This year’s lecture will be a Dialogue On Demagoguery and Free Speech between Professor Patricia Roberts-Miller, Professor and Director of the University Writing Center, Department of Rhetoric, The University of Texas at Austin and Professor Seth Kreimer, Kenneth W. Gemmill Professor of Law, University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School.
Demagoguery has been a frequent topic of American documentary films. Demagoguery is also seen as posing a threat to news media around the world today. But what precisely is “demagoguery”? Where does the power of its appeal of populism and irrational prejudice come from?
American demagoguery has a “peculiar” relationship to the First Amendment. Freedom of speech allows demagoguery to develop, yet free speech is generally among its targets. Nonetheless, a democratic society that pursues a political praxis of robust debate and disagreement is best able to fend off and recover from demagoguery’s polarization and factionalism. Can we trust the First Amendment to right the ship of state if it is overtaken by demagoguery and bring about a return to democratic deliberation?
Professor Roberts-Miller, a distant relative of Penn Law’s own Justice Owen J. Roberts, is the author of Demagoguery and Democracy, a pocket-size primer from Experiment Books. Professor Seth Kreimer is a constitutional law scholar who has represented plaintiffs in a range of constitutional litigation.
Held in GITTIS 214 | HAAGA CLASSROOM on Feb 20 at 5:00-7:30 PM
Please join us for this very special discussion, moderated by Dyana Williams, and duo performance in celebration of Christian McBride’s The Movement Revisited: A Musical Portrait of Four Icons (Mack Avenue Records) at Penn Museum’s Widener Lecture Hall. Attendees are invited to visit the new Africa galleries from 5-6:30pm.
When Philadelphia-born bassist and bandleader Christian McBride arrived in New York in 1989 as a Juilliard student, he was the “Godchild of the Groove” with unlimited potential. Today, with over 300 recordings as a sideman and 11 critically- acclaimed albums as a leader, he now reigns supreme as the “Lord of the Lower Frequencies.” He’s the influential and ubiquitous bassist of his generation, as evidenced by his quintet Inside Straight, his big band, his trio and his work with everybody from James Brown, Pat Metheny, Chick Corea and Wynton Marsalis to Sting, The Roots, Bruce Hornsby and Paul McCartney.
Emily Carris began her presentation posing a question she first asked in England, while contemplating an image of a slave ship in a tumultuous ocean, "what does salt know?" Seven years after her work in England, Emily returned to Philadelphia to work on developing institutional space for art as scholarship, which culminated in her founding the Art Dept. Collective. Engaging with Black women’s traditions of quilting, textile work, and healing, one of Emily’s most exhibited pieces features indigo and silk matta root embroidered over the raised whip scars on a famous portrait of “Peter,” an enslaved man who escaped from a Louisiana plantation in 1868. She is following this interest in textiles and quilting to explore the concept of armor as clothing, and the powerful historical intersections of quilting and warrior culture.
Following Emily Carris's presentation, dr. Prof. Wayne Modest began by introducing his current project as the Director of the Research Center for Material Culture (RCMC). He began his talk with an insightful provocation: “What happens to a history of design if we look outside the West...or teach a history of photography starting in 1842 in Jamaica rather than one starting in 1839 in Europe?” Wayne then drew attention to the histories that remain to be written, and the voices that remain to speak, Wayne argued that ethnographic objects in these collections carry within them ways of thinking history and write history otherwise. Throughout his presentation, Wayne highlighted that decolonization also requires that we challenge the taken-for-granted assumption that museums are inherently socially useful institutions; they may or may not be such, but assumptions around the "obviousness" of their value to society serve to hold critique back about how things could be different, or transformations could be made in the role they play in society.
These presentations were followed by a lively discussion session and lunch that grappled with the complicity of scholars, academics, and artists working in institutions deeply involved in the colonial project. Several attendees highlighted how uncomfortable such institutional complicity is, and in response others spoke of the need to live with and in this discomfort rather than dismiss it: Institutional repair requires work, and part of that work can be done by laying claim to institutional spaces in the way we speak, move, and gather, and in so doing carve out spaces for other voices and other histories. Following this discussion, other smaller discussions occurred around repatriating photography, the question of archival and imagery ownership, and the revolutionary histories embedded within objects that we are obligated to preserve though we may not yet be able to hear them.
Va Bene Elikem Fiatsi (preferred pronoun "sHe/it"), who performs under the name crazinisT artisT, will give a lunch presentation on Thursday, Dec 5. at 1 PM at the Penn Museum.
Vab's multimedia and installation/performance work uses the body as a thought provoking tool to explore the constructedness of identity, themes of bodily entrapment, public violence, and extreme marginality. During the lunch, Va Bene will discuss sHe/it's most recent work in decolonial arts organizing as the creator and director of an Ghana-based artists residency that, for its second year in 2020, will bring 56 international artists from dozens of nations for a 2 month collaborative residency in public contemporary art in Kumasi, Ghana. Va bene's past projects have been internationally covered in African Arts, CNN, OkayAfrica, CCQ, Diario de Regiao, Apollo, and other venues, and Vab has completed residencies in France, Germany, England, Nigeria, Cape Verde, Switzerland, Netherlands, Brazil, New York and more (full CV here).
Following a lunch presentation at the Center for Experimental Ethnography, Va Bene Elikem Fiatsi performed an intimate and collaborative self-curated work, RItual reALITies at Slought, followed by a conversation with CEE Postdoc Alissa Jordan.
In "RItual reALITies," Fiatsi engaged in a part-performance and part-discussion that explored identities as rituals that are produced collaboratively if not always conscientiously between individuals and societies. Detangling the notions of ritual, free will, and collaboration at the core of anti-trans and anti-LGBTQ+ violence on the world stage, Fiatsi asks: what collaborative rituals are used to make certain identities "real" and others "unreal" at State borders? and "Can the idea of "Reality" itself be seen as part of political rituals and ritual identity claims?
Listen to the conversation by clicking the link below, and visit the Slought.Org archive of the performance and conversation here.
An exhibit showcasing the end-of-semester interdisciplinary and collaborative works by Penn graduate students in Kristina Lyons' (Penn Anthropology) seminar, "Critical Engagements with Science(s) and Justice(s)" course.
Their installations will be shown on December 4th from 6:30-8:30 pm in Classroom L1 of the Penn Museum. These interdisciplinary collaborative projects took inspiration from the conceptual work of Donna Haraway and Joe Dumit to implode on combat medic trenches, an ebola epidemic, a data center, Monsanto´s glyphosate, and Mirena IUD technology, and then built multimodal installations out of the exercise.
CEE Visiting Fellow Ernst Karel and collaborator Veronika Kusumaryati will present and discuss their work in the audio archives resulting from the so-called ‘Harvard Peabody Expedition to Netherlands New Guinea’ in 1961. This was a large-scale anthropological expedition organized by filmmaker Robert Gardner to what is currently West Papua with the intention, as he put it, to carry out “a comprehensive study of a single community of Neolithic warrior farmers.” Funded by the Dutch colonial government and private donations, and consisting of several of the wealthiest members of American society wielding 16mm film cameras, still photographic cameras, reel-to-reel tape recorders, and a microphone, the expedition settled for five months in the Baliem Valley, among the Hubula (also known as Dani) people. It resulted in Gardner's highly influential film Dead Birds, two books of photographs, Peter Matthiessen's book Under the Mountain Wall, and two ethnographic monographs. Michael Rockefeller, a fourth-generation member of the Rockefeller (Standard Oil) family, was tasked with taking pictures and recording sound in and around the Hubula world.
Veronika KUSUMARYATI is a political and media anthropologist working in Melanesia and Southeast Asia. Her scholarship engages with the theories and historiography of colonialism, decolonization, and postcoloniality. She is currently working on a book manuscript entitled “Ethnography of a Colonial Present: History, Experience, and Political Consciousness in West Papua,” an ethnography of everyday experiences of colonialism and the making of political consciousness in West Papua, a self-identifying term that refers to Papua and West Papua provinces of Indonesia. She received my bachelor degree from the Jakarta Institute of Arts majoring in Film and Media Studies. She is a member of the Sensory Ethnography Lab and currently a Harvard College Fellow in Anthropology.
Ernst Karel works with sound, including experimental nonfiction sound works for multichannel installation and performance, electroacoustic music, and postproduction sound for nonfiction vilm [film/video]. His work focuses on the practice of location recording and composing with unprocessed location recordings; in performance he sometimes combines these with analog electronics to create pieces which move between the abstract and the documentary. His work has been presented at Sonic Acts, Amsterdam; Arsenal, Berlin; and the 2014 Whitney Biennial, among others. Sound installations with Helen Mirra have been exhibited at the Gardner Museum in Boston, MIT List Visual Arts Center, and in the 2012 Sao Paulo Bienal. Video with multichannel sound collaborations include Ah humanity! (2015, with Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel) and Single Stream (2014, with Toby Lee and Pawel Wojtasik). He completed his PhD on the anthropology of sound in the Committee on Human Development, University of Chicago, in 2003. At the Sensory Ethnography Lab at Harvard University, he collaborated on sound for vilms including The Iron Ministry, Manakamana, and Leviathan, and developed and taught a practice-based course in 'sonic ethnography.' Currently he is working through the archive of tape recordings from the so-called Harvard Peabody Expedition to Netherlands New Guinea, 1961, in collaboration with Veronika Kusumaryati.
Budhaditya Chattopadhyay will be a visiting artist in CEE Fellow Ernst Karel's Audio Ethnography class on TUESDAY NOV 26TH, 1:30-4:30, and he is opening the class to the public. Location TBD -
The presentation by Indian-born artist and scholar Budhaditya Chattopadhyay delineates the role of sonic ethnography in film and media arts, by introducing a few of Chattopadhyay’s sound works for listening and discussion, as well his forthcoming book The Auditory Setting (Edinburgh University Press, 2020) that investigates how narrative and a sense of place and space are constructed in film and media arts through the recording, reproduction and mediation of location-specific ‘ambience’ or ambient sounds. The term ‘auditory setting’ can be understood as a sonic backdrop or the acoustically mediated space where a story or event can take place. The presentation aims to assess sound’s undervalued role in the setting and its production.
On Nov 19th, CEE hosted a lunch conversation with Lisa Britton, from Penn's French and Francophone Studies. She spoke on an video/audio that records the story of Moussa SY, a French-Senegalese descendant who, on any given day of the year, will don the uniform of his great-great-grandfather and walk 30 km from his home in Soissons to the memorial sites along the Chemin des Dames. Moussa Sy is a modern griot of sorts, a wandering storyteller eager to engage with those he encounters along his path, promoting the Senegalese perspective on the Great War and strengthening the connections of American-French-and Senegalese people.
PENN MUSEUM 336
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