Monstah Black: COTTON at JACK
Thursday - Saturday, November 6 - 8 at 8 pm
Sunday, November 9 at 3 pm
"Kind of amazing, really" -- The New York Times, on Monstah Black.
Choreographer, musician and club hero Monstah Black brings to JACK the first installment of his dance film COTTON, featuring original songs and choreography, and filmed over nine months in various locations between NYC and Virginia. The 45-minute-long presentation features Black performing the soundtrack live (which the artist describes as "a meeting of Erykah Badu and Bjork with Prince and Grace Jones, in the living room of Parliament Funkadelic"). In the film, Black employs images from slavery and the plantation as a point of departure, modifying the images into positive iconography meant to inspire, empower and rejuvenate those that have suffered its ugly legacy.
"The feeling that people of color have around cotton will always rear its ugly head," says Black. "In a way the film I made about cotton may be considered a philosophical cousin of Kara Walker's recent project dealing with sugar. In COTTON, I take something that was originally cultivated by slaves and turn it into a conversation piece that can be seen as an eye candy, but hard to swallow. Also, during the making of the film I have had moments of realization how difficult it is to work with, how potentially dangerous how the shells around the cotton are thorny and how they must have left the cuticles of the cotton pickers bloody. That in turn brings the awareness that in other time and place, I could have been a slave picking cotton."
The gender complexity, which was an important theme in Monstah's work to date, still has a role in the new work; in COTTON, it coexists with meditations on race, color, and history, expressed not only by performance, but especially in the costume design. Besides Black who conceived the project, designed the costumes, directed/choreographed and performed in the piece the creative team behind COTTON includes Monstah's longtime collaborators Manchild Black (musical consultant), Zilvinas Jonusas (media installation/alternative lighting) and Ashley Brockington (theatrical direction consultant), among others. Award-winning poet and spoken word artist Christa Bell was a content consultant on the project.
This work has been supported, in part, by the Franklin Furnace Fund and a BRIC Media Arts Artist Fellowship.
Virginia native Reginald Ellis Crump, aka Monstah Black, has been creating and presenting work in New York from since 1999 as a performance artist, dancer, choreographer, musician and composer. Known for his cultural grab-bag approach, he enjoys mixing influences and allusions from many sources and traditions. In choreography, he infuses modern dance with shades of disco and funk and the comic, hyper-performative and sometimes confrontational style of address of burlesque, adding a dash of various martial arts and the expressive slow-motion acrobatics of Japanese Butoh. He has choreographed for nightclubs, art galleries, black box theaters, and warehouses throughout Washington D.C., New York City, and Europe. His work has been seen and heard at The National Theater, New York Live Arts, Dance New Amsterdam, Dixon Place, Movement Research, and many other venues. Monstah is also the front man for his band The Sonic Leroy as well as vocalist for the electro pop duo The Blakz. He performs frequently as a guest vocalist for the electro dance band Girls Like Bass.
Photo by Charles Meacham
505 Waverly Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11238