If you have time this weekend, I highly recommend, Musical Thinking: New Video Art and Sonic Strategies, an exhibition currently showing at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. The exhibition brings together a diverse group of artists such as ADÁL, Mariam Ghani and Ellen Kelly, Arthur Jafa, Simone Leigh, and Cauleen Smith in exploring the link between film, music, and performance art.
One artist I admire is Cauleen Smith, whose film, Sojourner (2018) is part of the show. Her film incorporates the music of Alice Coltrane and is meant to engage the idea of a black feminist utopia. Smith draws inspiration from historical figures such as Sojourner Truth, Alice Coltrane, and many other radical writers as seen in her series of paintings titled BLK FEMINIST LOANER LIBRARY 1989-2019. These paintings capture some of the books that have influenced her practice. They cover themes centered on black communal harmony, feminism and Afrofuturistic utopias. Whether its her films or her paintings, Smith’s work always serves as a bibliography–that brings into the conversation other black artists, filmmakers, writers– people who have contributed significantly to black cultural thought. Do check out this engaging, rich, experimental yet very accessible work.
Smith will be in DC on September 13, 2023 to discuss Sojourner, and Musical Thinking: New Art and Sonic Strategies. The exhibition runs until January 29, 2024 at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Admission is free