Mendi + Keith Obadike

The Year of James Baldwin -- Artist Talk with Students Fri 17 Apr 2015 3.00PM-5.00PM The New School University Center
63 5th Avenue, room L104 (lower level)
New York City

Co-commissioned and co-presented in partnership with Harlem Stage.
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On the occasion of their exhibition in the New School University Center Blues Speaker [for James Baldwin], Mendi + Keith Obadike engage in a conversation with New School students about their work. The talk follows a reading in the Social Justice Hub of James Baldwin's Sonny's Blues, read by blues musician Brandon Ross, scheduled as part of the sound installation. Blues Speaker [for James Baldwin] is a public sound art installation dedicated to writer and public intellectual James Baldwin (1924-1987). For Baldwin sound, music, and the blues in particular were sources of inspiration. The multi-channel sound art work meditates on a politics of listening found at the intersection of Baldwin's language and the sound worlds invoked in his work.

Blues Speaker -- Related Events

Blues Speaker - Opening Reception - Thursday, April 2nd, 5-7 pm
Join us for an opening celebration of the exhibition with remarks by LeRonn Brooks, refreshments will be served.

Blues Speaker -- Dialogues - Every Friday at Noon, April 10-24
Blues musicians read Baldwin's "Sonny's Blues" at the New School's Social Justice Hub.

Taking Listening Seriously: James Baldwin - Friday, April 24th, 4-5:30 pm
Part of the "What Now? The Politics of Listening" conference, Mendi + Keith will participate in a panel discussion with Rich Blint, moderated by Julie Napolin

Mendi + Keith Obadike are interdisciplinary artists who make art, music, and literature. Their intermedia work has been commissioned by The NY African Film Festival and Electronic Arts Intermix, Rhizome/The New Museum, Yale University, Whitechapel Art Gallery (London), and The Whitney Museum of American Art, among other institutions. Their major works include the sound installation American Cypher; the sound installation African Metropole; The Sour Thunder, an Internet Opera (Yale/Bridge Records); Crosstalk: American Speech Music (Bridge Records); Black.Net.Art Actions, a suite of new media artworks including Blackness for Sale (republished in re:skin on M.I.T Press); Phonotype (Ramapo), a book & CD of media artworks; and a poetry collection, Armor and Flesh (Lotus Press). They have contributed sounds/music to projects by a wide range of artists, including loops for soul singer D'Angelo's first album and a score for playwright Anna Deavere Smith at the Lincoln Center Institute. Mendi + Keith Obadike were invited to develop their first "opera-masquerade" by writer Toni Morrison at her Princeton Atelier. This project, Four Electric Ghosts, was later commissioned by the Kitchen and listed in Artforum's Best of the Year. Other honors include the Rockefeller New Media Arts Fellowship, the Pick Laudati Award for Digital Art, the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Fiction, and the Vectors Fellowship from USC. Their music and sound works have been featured on New York and Chicago public radio, as well as on Juniradio (104.5) in Berlin.
Keith Obadike received a BA in Art from North Carolina Central University and an MFA in Sound Design from Yale University. He is Associate Professor in the College of Arts and Communication at William Paterson University and serves as an art advisor for the Times Square Alliance. Mendi Obadike received a BA in English from Spelman College and a PhD in Literature from Duke University. After working as a Cotsen Postdoctoral Fellow at Princeton University, she became a poetry editor at Fence magazine and Assistant Professor in the Department of Humanities and Media Studies at Pratt Institute. Their upcoming projects include a collaboration with Urban Bushwomen on their new work Walking with Trane and a commissioned series of public artworks in the city of Chicago created from the archives of the Center for Black Music Research at Columbia College to complete Mendi + Keith Obadike's third American History Intermedia Suite, Free Phase.

This event is part of the year-long, city-wide celebration The Year of James Baldwin, which is presented in partnership with Harlem Stage, Columbia University School of the Arts and New York Live Arts, and in collaboration with the Vera List Center for Art and Politics, the School of Media Studies, and the School of Writing at The New School.

Special thanks to the New School Facilities Management team, the Department of Public Programs and the University Social Justice Committee for their tremendous support.