Thursday, January 20, 2011

POST: Rashaad Newsome / Work In Progress / V Magazine / Issue 67

Photograph by Jason Schmidt
Artist Rashaad Newsome explores the gestural compositions of hip-hop music videos and sets them to a brand-new beat.

"In this picture, I am testing the sound levels for my pieces in 'Greater New York' titled The Conductor (Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi) and The Conductor (Primo Vere, Omnia Sol Temperat). The videos are the first and second movements of a six-part video installation that sets Carl Orff�s Carmina Burana against a video montage of expressive hand gestures, extracted from popular rap videos, and a musical background of hip-hop beats. As Orff�s iconic oratorio opens with O Fortuna, a closely edited sequence of bejewelled gestures appears to conduct the music."
~Rashaad Newsome

In the video above, Rashaad Newsome talks about his captivating video installation The Conductor (Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi) (2008), currently on view at MoMA PS1 as part of the the Greater New York 2010 exhibition. In this work (the first in a six-part series), Newsome combines clips culled from rap music videos with selections from the composer Carl Orff�s classical masterpiece Carmina Burana, a piece of music that has itself been widely sampled in pop culture. The music-video footage has been edited to isolate and remix shots of the rap artists� hand gestures so they appear to be conducting Orff�s orchestra, a juxtaposition that allows Newsome to playfully break down boundaries between seemingly opposed cultural forms.

In Newsome�s videos, collages, and performances, distinctions between and expectations about high and low culture are upended and reconfigured. Using what he calls �the equalizing force of sampling��a process borrowed from hip-hop�Newsome adopts the role of composer in his work, appropriating and reframing imagery, sounds, and gestures from a variety of pop-cultural sources associated with predominately black subcultures, such as vogueing, so-called �ghetto� expressions, �bling� jewelry, and rap music videos.
Rashaad Newsome. The Conductor (Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi). 2008. Installation view at MoMA PS1 in the exhibition Greater New York 2010 (May 23�October 18, 2010). Photo by Matthew Septimus

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