ARTISTIC VOICES OF THE DIASPORA
SATURDAY, APRIL 2, 2011 — 3:00pm
Museum of Arts and Design, New York NY
PANEL DISCUSSION AND SCREENING—African Film Festival Inc. AFF in partnership with the Museum of Art and Design MAD will celebrate both entities spotlight on the contemporary artistic voices of the Diaspora, The 18th New York African Film Festival, and The Global Africa Project through a panel discussion and film screening at the Museum of Art and Design Theater. The African Diaspora focus of both AFF and MAD is timely as 2011 has been designated the International Year of the Peoples of African Descent by the United Nations. The festival and museum will present a historical overview of the exhibition of contemporary artistic works of the African Diaspora through a dynamic panel of international artists including Xenobia Bailey textile artist and writer Harry Belafonte actor singer and humanitarian and Zina Saro-wiwa filmmaker and curator. Following the panel will be a screening of the 1966 film African Rhythmus a visually stunning fifty-minute Soviet survey of the First World Festival of Negro Arts now known as the World Festival of Black Arts and Culture first held in Dakar Senegal in 1966.
African Rhythmus, archival footage, Senegal / USSR, 1966, 50 min.
In Russian with English subtitles
At the First World Festival of Negro Arts delegates from 37 countries of the world met. The festival taking place in the open air rather than in theater halls created a friendly atmosphere that laid the foundation for a new way for people to converge. Using state-of-the art technology to capture this truly historical moment the film surveys the first-ever global gathering of celebrated artists of the African Diaspora in this visually stunning film. Some of the highlights of the film are performances by singer Moune de Rivel Antilles and Josephine Baker USA and ensemble performances from Chad Togo United Arab Republic Nigerian Republic Trinidad Tobago and the Alvin Ailey Company.
Xenobia Bailey is a needle fiber artist writer and cultural rehabilitator who has been widely exhibited at major galleries and institutions throughout the course of her career including: Studio Museum of Harlem the New Museum of Contemporary Art the High Museum of Art in Atlanta and the Jersey City Museum. Originally from Seattle Washington and now living in Harlem New York Bailey brings African American roots music into visual terms with vibrant room-sized installations of crocheted mandalas tents and costumes. Her discovery of African aesthetics and culture of jazz blues and fusion music in college contributed to her idea that the psyche was profoundly impacted by ones physical surroundings. She began to crochet her impression of these uplifting and empowering sounds and soon began making enveloping installations that seek to uplift and inspire while establishing an African American aesthetic in everyday American culture. Currently Bailey’s works can be seen in The Global Africa Project exhibition.
An actor singer and humanitarian and the acknowledged King of Calypso Harry Belafonte ranked among the most seminal performers of the postwar era. Born March 1 1927 in Harlem NY to Caribbean-born immigrants he returned with his mother to her native Jamaica at the age of eight and remained there for the next five years. The island and all its variety became his cultural reservoir. At the outbreak of World War II Belafonte returned to Harlem and over the next few years served in United States Navy followed by work in the garment center and as a janitors assistant. He later joined the Dramatic Workshop of the New School of Social Research under the tutelage of the renowned German director Erwin Piscator where Belafonte became thoroughly immersed in the world of theatre. That experience prepared Belafonte for an inordinately successful career including becoming the first artist in industry history to sell over 1 million LPs with his RCA album Calypso his Tony Award winning Broadway appearance in JOHN MURRAY ANDERSONS ALMANAC his Emmy Award winning CBS production of AN EVENING WITH BELAFONTE which also made him the first black producer in television and his memorable role of Joe the soldier in Otto Preminger‚Äôs CARMEN JONES. In addition to his work as a performer Mr. Belafonte has long been a political and humanitarian activist. He was a key figure in the Civil Rights movement in America and his advocacy in South Africa contributed to the ending of the oppressive apartheid government of South Africa and release of his friend Nelson Mandela from prison. He also set in motion the wheels that led to We Are the World on January 28 1985 and directed the project known as USA for Africa. In 1987 Belafonte accepted the appointment as UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador thus making him the second American to hold this title the first being Danny Kaye. Belafonte has continued to devote himself globally to civil and human rights issues focusing in particular on the United States and Africa.