Fred Moten’s areas of study and practice are Black Studies, Critical Theory, Performance Studies, and Poetics. His writing has included scholarly texts In The Break: The Aesthetics of the Black Radical Tradition and consent not to be a single being, several books of poetry, and ongoing collaborations with theorist Stefano Harney (they are co-authors of The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning and Black Study and A Poetics of the Undercommons) and artist Wu Tsang (they are authors of Who Touched Me?). Moten’s capacious investigations are marked by the appositional consideration of ostensibly disparate figures from the realms of free jazz, popular music, contemporary art, and continental philosophy as interpreted through the lens of the black radical tradition. His recognition of the already given and forceful presence of of the vernacular in high theory and vice versa pervades both his critical writing and poetry, blurring distinctions between the two and undermining the very notion of their binary nature in the polyphonic mode of interstitial jazz improvisation. He lives in New York and teaches in the Department of Performance Studies at New York University. For his appearance at James Cohan Gallery, Moten will lend his solemn and hypnotic baritone to a reading from his latest book of poetry, All That Beauty.
Blank Forms has curated a program of music and poetry as part of Josiah McElheny’s new solo show, Observations at Night. McElheny’s sonic sculpture, “Moon Mirror,” will function as both an acoustic reflector and an open stage-like platform for performances, as part of an exhibition of optically dynamic paintings and sculptures inspired by cosmic revolutionary figures like Joe McPhee and Sun Ra Arkestra singer June Tyson. Tyson’s optimistic communication of the potential for world-building beyond the painful alienation of presiding earthly visions serves as the focal point for the series’ interrogation of how music and poetry might illuminate new pathways of resistance to our troubled political climate. An international assembly of artists from a diverse spectrum of creative improvising idioms have been selected to use McElheny’s parabolic structure as a catalyst for explorations of both acoustic feedback and social interaction between performers and audiences from heterogeneous cultural spheres. Featuring performers pulling inspiration from black American free jazz as well as experimental music, deep listening, and folk traditions of Korean, Japanese, Iraqi, Indonesian, and Persian music, the surreal convergence of mysteries of light and sound proposes that we might today not only pass through what can feel like a dream or nightmare state but find something here, visible or audible in the twilight that can lead into a cosmic future.