This Planet is Doomed: A Sun Ra Celebration
At the Penn Museum Thursday, July 10, 7:00 to 10:00 pm
In celebration of the 100th anniversary of Sun Ra’s arrival on Earth, The Galleries at Moore and Ars Nova Workshop (ANW), in partnership with the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (Penn Museum), present This Planet is Doomed: A Sun Ra Celebration, an evening of poetry, futuristic sounds, archival films and an Afro-Futurist dance party. The event is free and open to the public.
This Planet is Doomed: A Sun Ra Celebration will take place on Thursday, July 10 from 7-10 pm at the Penn Museum (3260 South St, Philadelphia) and has been made possible through capacity-building support from The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. This special multi-disciplinary event will feature readings of Sun Ra’s remarkable science fiction poetry by Pew Fellow CAConrad, writer Ras Mashramani, and Sun Ra biographer John Szwed, accompanied by the sounds of Buchla Music Easel pioneer Charles Cohen. The readings will be followed by an Afrofuturist dance party with DJs Anthony Campuzano and Jack Sloss spinning a music mix that includes the sounds of Sun Ra and his legendary Arkestra. Projections of a selection of archival Sun Ra films, courtesy of the Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries, will provide the backdrop, and a cash bar will be available.
Sun Ra, a jazz master and longtime Philadelphia resident, would have been 100 this year. A bonafide cultural hero, flamboyant outsider and self-made genius, Sun Ra left the genre of jazz with an incredibly prolific collection of music, poetry and philosophy. Many know Sun Ra for his cosmic, avant-garde music and costumes, as well as his pioneering role in the Afro-Futurist movement, but there is not as much discussion of the poetry he wrote, which he often coupled with his music. He did say, “Poems are music: some of the songs I write are based on my poems,” yet very few have analyzed the relationship between music and poetry in his work.
The Penn Museum is the ideal location for this event, as parts of Robert Mugges’s 1980 film Sun Ra: A Joyful Noise were shot in the Museum’s Lower Egyptian Gallery, with its monumental granite sphinx as the backdrop for Sun Ra’s intergalactic philosophical musings on the bleak fate of Planet Earth. The program readings and music will be presented in the Lower Egyptian Gallery, before moving to the open Dietrich-Kintner gallery space for the dance party.
ABOUT THE GALLERIES AT MOORE:
The Galleries at Moore support Moore College of Art & Design's educational mission and role as a cultural leader by providing a forum for exploring contemporary art and ideas, and enriching the artistic and intellectual climate of the college, the Greater Philadelphia community and beyond. As a gateway between the College and the city of Philadelphia, The Galleries are a catalyst for creative exploration, experimentation and scholarship and function as a gathering place to meet, reflect, learn, challenge and create. The Galleries' exhibitions and programs – which are all free and open to the public – create community through dialogue and participation, and inspire an appreciation for the visual arts as a vital force in shaping contemporary culture. For more information, visit www.thegalleriesatmoore.org
ABOUT ARS NOVA WORKSHOP:
Ars Nova Workshop is a Philadelphia nonprofit jazz and experimental music presenting organization. As a facilitator between artists and their audiences, Ars Nova Workshop works to inform, inspire and challenge listeners in order to elevate the role of jazz, improvisation and experimental music in contemporary culture. For more information, please visit http://www.arsnovaworkshop.com/
ABOUT THE PENN MUSEUM:
The Penn Museum (the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology) is dedicated to the study and understanding of human history and diversity. Founded in 1887, the Museum has sent more than 300 archaeological and anthropological expeditions to all the inhabited continents of the world. With an active exhibition schedule and educational programming for children and adults, the Museum offers the public an opportunity to share in the ongoing discovery of humankind's collective heritage. For more information, please visit http://www.penn.museum
ABOUT ANTHONY CAMPUZANO and JACK SLOSS:
Anthony Campuzano is known for his use of found language in his drawings, taking text from such sources as newspaper headlines, Wikipedia entries, the covers of
paperback novels, and song lyrics. His work has been exhibited widely, including solo exhibitions at the Institute of Contemporary Art and Fleisher/Ollman Gallery, Philadelphia; as well as Churner & Churner and White Columns, New York. Campuzano is a 2009 recipient of the Pew Fellowship in the Arts. Jack Sloss is an artist who, through the Outer Space Employment Agency, has found work at a number of record stores including Third Street Jazz & Rock, and Weekend Records & Soap. He is a selector who has sent out transmissions from time-to-time from such stations as WKDU and Free Radio West Town.
ABOUT CHARLES COHEN:
Philadelphia-based composer and musician Charles Cohen has been characterized as a “special and singular musician” with a highly developed and refined voice. His music is entirely improvisational, produced solely on a vintage Buchla Music Easel synthesizer, a rare analog instrument designed in the early 1970s. He has studied with musical mavericks such as accordionist and electronic composer Pauline Oliveros and jazz pianist Cecil Taylor, and is dedicated to the art of abstract improvisation and seeking out collaborations with fellow musicians who share his love of spontaneous creation during live performance. For more information, please visit http://beepsandboops.blogspot.com/
CAConrad is the author of seven books including ECODEVIANCE: (Soma)tics for the Future Wilderness (WAVE Books, 2014), A BEAUTIFUL MARSUPIAL AFTERNOON (WAVE Books, 2012), and The Book of Frank (WAVE Books, 2010). A 2014 Lannan Fellow, a 2013 MacDowell Fellow, and a 2011 Pew Fellow, he also conducts workshops on (Soma)tic poetry and Eco poetics. For more information, please visit http://CAConrad.blogspot.com
ABOUT RAS MASHRAMANI:
Ras Mashramani lives and writes in West Philadelphia and is a founding member of the Philly grown science fiction collective, Metropolarity. She has served as new media editor at APIARY magazine, and completed an online erotica series with writer Carolyn DeCarlo, entitled DOWN. She frequently performs at Laser Life, a queer empowered sci-fi reading series. For more information, please visit metropolarity.net/tag/ras-mashramani/
ABOUT JOHN SZWED:
John Szwed is Professor of Music and Jazz Studies at Columbia University, Editor-in-Chief of the web site JazzStudiesOnline.org, and Acting Director of the Center for Jazz Studies at Columbia University. He is the author of many books on jazz and American music, including Space is the Place: The Lives and Times of Sun Ra, as well as biographies of Miles Davis, Alan Lomax and Jelly Roll Morton. He has also written for The New York Times, the Village Voice, and The Washington Post, and has taught at New York University, the University of Pennsylvania and Yale University. For more information, please visit: http://www.johnszwed.com/
Photo: Penn Museum's Lower Egypt Gallery, where the poetry readings and music segment of The Planet is Doomed: A Sun Ra Celebration will take place.