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Space is the Place (A March for Sun Ra)

A work made of single-channel high-definition video, color, sound; 10 min. 56 sec.; edition 3 of 5, with 1 artist's proof.

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  • A work made of single-channel high-definition video, color, sound; 10 min. 56 sec.; edition 3 of 5, with 1 artist's proof.

Date:

2011

Artist:

Cauleen Smith
American, born 1967

About this artwork

In 2010 Los Angeles-based artist and filmmaker Cauleen Smith relocated to Chicago, where her work became increasingly site-specific and engaged in social activism. She created the Solar Flare Arkestral Marching Band Project, which has organized flash-mob appearances throughout Chicago. This project and other related works invoke the legacy of pioneering composer and performer Sun Ra (1914–1993, active in Chicago 1945– 61), who brought together jazz, poetry, pageantry, graphic design, and science fiction to create an image of the future (sometimes described as “Afrofuturist”) based on readings of African American history. The visualization of this movement, black diaspora identity formation, and an emphasis on agency rather than oppression are recurrent elements in Smith’s repertoire.

Space Is the Place (A March for Sun Ra) records the spontaneous performance of the Rich South High School marching band playing Sun Ra’s eponymous 1972 composition in Chicago’s Chinatown Square. Undeterred by the pouring rain and the evident confusion of onlookers, the young musicians display great enthusiasm and charisma playing, singing, and dancing to Sun Ra’s still-powerful drum beat. Smith employs a cinema verité–like style to capture the juxtaposition of Sun Ra’s experimental composition performed by a student band among the twelve bronze statues of the Chinese zodiac lining the perimeter of the space, a reflection of the composer’s synthesis of ancient and avant-garde iconologies.

Status

Currently Off View

Department

Contemporary Art

Artist

Cauleen Smith

Title

Space is the Place (A March for Sun Ra)

Date

2011

Medium

Single-channel high-definition video, color, sound; 10 min. 56 sec.; edition 3 of 5, with 1 artist's proof

Credit Line

Contemporary Art Discretionary Fund

Reference Number

2016.332

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.

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