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Alsarah visits with Duke students

Alsarah of Alsarah and the Nubatones visited with Duke students during her artist residency with Duke Performances. She met with students from Refugee Lives (AMES 320S, DOCST 321S) and Strategic Storytelling (PUBPOL 646S) to discuss her influences and her personal migration story.

 

 

Manno Charlemagne performs at Duke

by Catherine Angst

“Òganizasyon mondyal yo pa pou nou yo ye…” Manno Charlemagne voice reverberates through Duke’s Ahmadieh Family Lecture Hall in his native Haitian Creole. Charlemagne’s velvet vocals harmonize with his acoustic guitar as he repeats to the large crowd, “Òganizasyon mondyal yo pa pou nou yo ye…” a message that translates roughly as, “Global organizations are not in our interest”.

As a singer and songwriter, Charlemagne’s politically charged chansons have scored the soundtrack of Haiti’s political protest for over 30 years. Born in the suburbs of Port-au-Prince in 1948, Charlemagne music was influenced by traditional Haitian twoubadou performers and shaped by the “kilti libète” or freedom culture movement of 1970s Haiti. Throughout the 1980s, Charlemagne’s songs stood in opposition to and captured the injustice of the Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier regime.

Jacques Pierre, co-director of Duke’s Haiti Lab, coordinated the Charlemagne concert. In addition to directing the Haiti Lab, Pierre teaches Haitian Creole in Duke’s Romance Studies Department.  “I wanted to bring Manno to campus because my Intermediate Creole students are working with his songs. Also, I wanted to share his performance with the Haitian community in the Triangle area, so they could reconnect with many of his songs from the 1980s and 90s which are still very powerful and moving,” said Pierre.

As an ambassador of Haitian culture on campus, Pierre coordinates several Haitian events throughout the year including the upcoming International Haitian Creole Day on October 28th, and an Haitian film festival which takes place in the spring.  Pierre’s students, Duke faculty, and members of the Haitian diaspora filled the audience on September 23rd to listen to Charlemagne’s sharp lyrics, enjoy the Haitian rhythms, and reflect on the importance that art and music can have in political histories.

 

video by Jennifer Prather

 

The Manno Charlemagne concert was supported by Duke’s Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, the department of African and African American Studies, Duke’s Center for International and Global Studies, the Forum for Scholars and Publics, the Franklin Humanities Institute, the Haiti Lab, and the department of Romance Studies.

Fazil Say visits Duke

In February 2016, Turkish pianist and composer Fazil Say visited Duke University as part of the Duke Performances’ artist-in-residence program. During his stay, Say preformed a sold out show, led a student chamber music intensive, met with the Turkish student association, and spoke on a public panel about music and culture in Turkey.

Erdağ Göknar, the director of the Middle East Studies Center, sat down with Say to discuss how Say’s work acts as a bridge between traditional Anatolian folk music and today’s modern Turkish compositions. Göknar and Say also discuss the idea of music as resistance.

Say’s residency was made possible, in part, with an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, and with support from Duke University Middle East Studies Center and the American-Turkish Association of North Carolina (ATA-NC).

More about the artist:

Fazil Say’s Website

Fazil Say’s Facebook

 

Supported by the Power – Lonnie Holley

Exhibiting in the John Hope Franklin Gallery from December 15, 2015 – February 26, 2016.

 

Lonnie Holley is the artist working today who can best eliminate the barrier between taught and untaught art. This collapse of dividers, not unlike racial ones, represents a declassification or deconstruction of a deeply troubling history in order to create a more communitarian future.

Holley is a peerless artist who we best label contemporary, not folk. His sense of contemporary is more closely aligned with current social and political events than most contemporary artists who seem to have only evolved their use of materials.

In Lonnie Holley: Supported by the Power, sculptures emerge from Alabama yards and Atlanta corners. Holley’s themes in his art and music run concurrent to contemporary actualities: post-Jim Crow race pathologies or a recycling of consumer goods towards a more sustainable future.   His story is a southern tale. The history of the South conjures the most American of stories: a story of oppression from tilled fields and small yards to urban corners of southern and northern cities.

Holley, when compared to an exemplary artist like Robert Rauschenberg, creates works which are more zen-like, less neurotic and contradictory and more future-predictive in terms of 1/ connecting to tradition 2/ a recycling of materials to make a more sustainable art 3/ creating works with fewer conservation problems as they are already time-rendered 4/ its connection to music 5/ creating a language of liberation 6/ the connection to nature and local specificities.

On the main wall we see four totemic, cruciform-like works which convey the African-American exigency of forced labor, suffering and the genesis of religious sanctuary.   On the end wall, Never to be Opened Again, made by Holley in post-Katrina New Orleans, depicts a local history in ruins, a result of the baneful mix of a corrupted nature and politics.   In the two remaining works, Supported by the Power and The Catholic Ladies’ Picture, Holley creates a personal history (auto-portraiture as empowerment) and a conceptual nod to art history (art objects as carriers of power). Supported by the Power, consisting solely of 7 sculptures, we can still grasp the sum power of Lonnie Holley’s work.

Special thanks are due to: the artist, Matt and William Arnett, Bradford Cox, Rodney and Nancy Gould, MA, Joan and Michael Salke, MA, Jason Doty, Giovanni Zanalda and Lauren Feilich.

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