FREE/PHASE is a suite of sound-based artworks by New York-based artists and composers Mendi + Keith Obadike. The exhibition is divided into three parts. Each part of the exhibition responds to one way freedom songs have been used historically. The exhibition grew out of Mendi + Keith’s research on African-American freedom songs conducted at the Center for Black Music Research at Columbia College.
Mendi + Keith Obadike are known for making works that use music, language, and media to explore the codes that shape culture. They have presented works at The Whitney Museum of American Art, The Studio Museum in Harlem, The New Museum, and The Whitechapel Gallery, London, among other institutions. Their early collaborations include performances made for the internet, like their 2001 work Blackness for Sale, in which they auctioned Keith’s “blackness” on eBay. Their current sound works engage architecture. Examples include Blues Speaker [for James Baldwin] at The New School and Fit (The Battle of Jericho) at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. They are currently developing a public sound work entitled Sonic Migration in Philadelphia and a newly commissioned work for New York’s Times Square. They were awarded a 2015 Louis Comfort Tiffany Biennial Award.
Free/Phase has three nodes:
Beacon: A Sound Installation. At 9 am, Noon, and 7pm, melodies from freedom songs will chime from the balcony of the Stony Island Arts Bank, like a beam from a lighthouse or a call to prayer.
Overcome: A Video and Surround Sound Work Using sounds recorded from the structure of the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama the artists reimagine the song “We Shall Overcome.” This unites a site and a song associated with a key moment in the Civil Rights Movement.
Dialogue with DJs: A Community Engagement Work From 2pm – 6pm, Tuesdays through Saturdays, the public will have opportunities to engage in private listening sessions and conversations about music and freedom with renowned Chicago DJs.
All nodes can be experienced free of charge at the Stony Island Arts Bank from June 4-18, 2016. Beacon plays from the balcony of the Stony Island Arts Bank at 9 am, 12 pm, and 7 pm daily. Overcome plays on a loop during the Stony Island Arts Bank open hours (Tuesday through Saturday, 12pm-7pm). And Dialogue with DJs occurs Tuesday through Saturday from 2pm to 6pm.
Join the conversation with #StonyIslandArtsBank, #RebuildFoundation, and #FreePhase.
Image courtesy of the artists
FREE/PHASE is made possible by the generous support of the National Endowment for the Arts, The Kresge Foundation, the Center for Black Music Research at Columbia College, and Rebuild’s individual donors, close friends, and volunteers.