Copresented with Black Cinema House
Talk, 1–3 pm
Flutist/composer Nicole Mitchell, violinist/composer Renée Baker, media artist Ulysses Jenkins, film scholar Jacqueline Najuma Stewart, and film producer Don DiNicola discuss historical and current intersections of music, media, and social practice. Jenkins collaborated with Mitchell for her latest work for the Black Earth Ensemble, as part of her investigative reframing of progressive movements in history through music that transmits the voices of figures such as Harriet Tubman, Octavia Butler, and Michelle Obama. Baker, founder of Chicago Modern Orchestra Project, has composed a new score for DiNicola’s restored print of the race film Body and Soul (1925) by Oscar Micheaux. Stewart convenes them in a talk that considers black film and performance culture, lost and newly discovered, how its intersections with social progress movements change our received understanding of the role of the artist, and the extraordinary ways in which African Americans have staked their claim in advancing art and culture.
Screening, Ulysses Jenkins 3–4:30 pm
Jenkins introduces selections from his works, including Cake Walk, Two Zone Transfer, and Secrecy: Help Me to Understand. Jenkins created the expressionistic video and lighting for Nicole Mitchell’s Mandorla Awakening (MCA Stage, May 2), her latest experiment of sound, color, and movement imagery inspired by Afro-futurist pioneers such as Octavia Butler.
Screening, Oscar Micheaux, 4:30–6:30 pm
Film producer Don DiNicola introduces his restored print of Micheaux’s Body and Soul (1925), which features a new score by Renée Baker. Following the premiere screening, they engage the public in discussion. The MCA premieres Baker’s chamber opera Sunyata: Towards Absolute Emptiness on May 3.
About the Speakers
Don DiNicola has 15 years of experience in film and television as a composer, music supervisor, and director/producer. He has written music for PBS, A&E, TLC, Discovery, CNBC, Style, Sundance, and HBO networks. He was music supervisor for the Emmy Award–winning Suicide Bombers/Cult Of Death and The Art Of Failure, and composed original music for Baring It All. His feature directorial debut, Nowhere Now: The Ballad Of Joshua Tree, enjoyed a vibrant life on the international film festival circuit before being picked up for a one year run on PBS affiliate KCET in Los Angeles. His mixed-media short film, Karma Cats: The Chintamani Stone spent two years screening at multiple film festivals internationally. Most recently his animated short, A Rabbit's Life, In 3 Parts, had its world premier at the Big Apple Film Festival in New York. DiNicola is also a founding faculty member of Vermont College Of Fine Arts.
Ulysses Jenkins is a widely recognized video/performance artist whose work has been show in a number or national and international venues. As part of the Getty Research Institute’s Pacific Standard Time exhibitions (2011) he performed a preview of his Black Gold Fever at LACE gallery for Los Angeles Goes Live: Exploring a Social History of Performance Art in Southern California, 1970–1983 (2010). His multimedia installation, Notions of Freedom, which employs motion capture technology and video, as well as a soundtrack “Chief Concern,” by Kei Akagi, was shown in the exhibit Sound Migrationz in the New Belgrade at the Block Gallery, Serbia (2009). Jenkins is currently professor of art at the Claire Trevor School of Art at the University of California at Irvine.
Jacqueline Najuma Stewart is curator of Black Cinema House and professor in the department of cinema and media studies at the University of Chicago. Her book, Migrating to the Movies: Cinema and Black Urban Modernity, focuses on black film culture in Chicago during the silent era. Stewart’s research and teaching explore African American film cultures from the origins of the medium to the present, as well as the archiving and preservation of moving images, and “orphan” media histories, including nontheatrical, amateur, and activist film and video. She directs the South Side Home Movie Project and is cocurator of the LA Rebellion Preservation Project at the UCLA Film and Television Archive. She also serves as an appointee to the National Film Preservation Board. She is currently researching the racial politics of moving image preservation and is also completing a study of the life and work of African American actor/writer/director Spencer Williams.
Renée Baker, founder of Chicago Modern Orchestra Project, uses an original composition language, which she calls Cipher Conduit Linguistics, that freely flows between written modules and improvisation.
Nicole Mitchell has been DownBeat Critics Poll's and Jazz Journalists Association's "Top Flutist of the Year" for the last four years. She is reframing progressive movements in history through music that transmits the voices of the people, from Harriet Tubman to afro-futurist Octavia Butler and Michelle Obama.
Support for Ulysses Jenkins: Creative Music Summit is generously provided by Black Cinema House and by Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture; Department of Cinema and Media Studies; Film Studies Center; Arts + Public Life; and the Richard and Mary L. Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry at the University of Chicago.