Still from digital re-performance of SCRAAATCH No. 8 (2015)
We have been following the work of Philadelphia-based artists SCRAAATCH aka E. Jane and chukwumaa (E+c) since crossing paths at an event at MoCADA in Brooklyn. Recently, they came back to New York to prepare for an upcoming performance at The Kitchen. We had the chance to sit down for a conversation in Chelsea. After parting ways, we were struck not only by all the common ground between our teams, but also by the divergences. We realized we wanted to talk more about how they work and where their practice is going. E+c will perform their work SCRAAATCH no. 9 at The Kitchen as a part of the S/N series this Friday, June 5, between 4 – 6 pm.
M+K: We've been working together almost 20 years, so we are always interested in how teams function. Why do you choose to collaborate? What does it make possible for you as individuals or what are you trying to say by collaborating?
E+c: One thing we loved hearing in Kanye West's Zane Lowe interview was his idea of having multiple outlets. He described how having different containers for different creative impulses prevents you from clouding up one project by trying to put too many ideas into it. We're both really generative and are engaged with conversations around a lot of different fields, ideas, inclinations, audiences and questions. SCRAAATCH allows us to channel some energy that might cloud our individual work, which can sometimes be much more project-centered.
MENDI + KEITH OBADIKE | Document: If the Heavens Don't Hear, the Earth Will Hear
· Side A: "If the Heavens Don't Hear (A Roller Skating Jam for Marian Anderson)"
· Side B: "The Earth Will Hear (for Audre Lorde and Marlon Riggs)"
· & a remix of "Heavens" by Gordon Voidwell
The song titles come from an English translation of an Igbo proverb: "Si kele onye nti chiri; enu anughi, ala anu."
Mendi +Keith Obadike make music, art and literature. Their works include The Sour Thunder, an Internet opera (Bridge Records) and a poetry collection, Armor and Flesh (Lotus Press). Mendi + Keith also produced a text-sound compilation album entitled Crosstalk: American Speech Music (Bridge Records). Their opera-masquerade, entitled Four Electric Ghosts, premiered at The Kitchen in 2009.
We're writing to let you know about Chicago Public Radio's recent feature on our project Big House / Disclosure. They have presented an interview and excerpts of our work in conjunction with the Third Coast International Audio Festival, where we'll be giving a presentation in November. If you're in the area, we'd love to see you then.
Third Coast Audio Festival
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MENDI + KEITH OBADIKE LAUNCH BIG HOUSE / DISCLOSURE
a 200-hour long house song with the voices of Chicago-area Citizens
WHEN: March 1st- 8th
WHERE: Northwestern Univ. Campus - Kresge Hall and online at
CONTACTS: firstname.lastname@example.org (blacknetart.com) &
email@example.com, 847-491-4890 (Northwestern Office of
Mendi + Keith Obadike (born 1973, USA) make interdisciplinary art works using live art, music, literature, and new media. One of their better-known projects is Blackness for Sale, in which they auctioned Keith’s blackness on eBay. Mendi + Keith were commissioned by Northwestern University’s Art Theory and Practice Department to create a new work, Big House / Disclosure, an intermedia suite featuring a 200-hour long house song that will be heard in real-time from March 1st-8th in Kresge Hall on Northwestern’s campus and online at http://www.blacknetart.com/Bighouse.html. This work was created in honor of the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the British Slave trade in 1807 and Chicago’s role as the first city in the United States to adopt a Slavery Era Disclosure Ordinance in 2002, requiring businesses seeking city contracts to disclose whether they have profited from slavery.
Big House / Disclosure was constructed using audio interviews conducted by Northwestern University students with Chicago-area citizens about slavery and the city’s slavery era ordinance. Mixing these interviews with elements of Chicago house music, the artists created a multi-channel sound installation. The project includes 200 video clips of live art and musical performances viewable from the website (http://blacknetart.com/BigHouse.html). Musical events in the sound installation are triggered by custom-designed software tracking the real-time rise and fall stock prices of several corporations that have admitted to profiting from slavery.
Keith Obadike received a BA in Visual Art from North Carolina Central University and an MFA in Sound Design from Yale University. Mendi Obadike received a BA in English from Spelman College and a Ph.D. in Literature from Duke University. They have received a Rockefeller New Media Art Fellowship and commissions from the Whitney Museum of American Art, Whitechapel Gallery of London, Electronic Arts Intermix, and The New York African Film Festival. Their Internet opera, The Sour Thunder, was commissioned by Yale University, broadcast in its’ entirety in (104.5 fm) Berlin, and released by Bridge Records in 2004. In 2005 they launched Four Electric Ghosts, an opera produced by Toni Morrison’s Atelier at Princeton University, and in 2006 they performed a live sound art transmission from the Amory Art Show in New York commissioned by the Franklin Furnace. Big House / Disclosure has been generously supported by a Pick-Laudati Award from Northwestern University.
The Armory Opera (or Sonus Plexus 40.7673 -73.9965)
This work uses ambient sound from The Armory Art Show combined with onsite conversations (about Brer Rabbit and The Art of War) with visitors to the fair to create an improvised musical narrative. This work will be streamed live from <http://www.blacknetart.com/Armory.html>. This work was commissioned by the Franklin Furnace Archive and supported by the School of Visual Arts.
Please listen in as we present songs and stories from our new work Four Electric Ghosts, created in collaboration with students in the Princeton Atelier. Inspired by Amos Tutuola