P R E S S R E L E A S E S 2003
January 28, 2003
DJ Spooky Returns to MASS MoCA to Present His Revamped Version of Griffith's Birth of a Nation
(North Adams, Mass.) In February DJ Spooky, a.k.a. Paul Miller, makes his return to MASS MoCA for a two-week residency culminating on Friday, February 28, with a work-in-progress showing of his remix of D. W. Griffith's silent film Birth of a Nation, called Rebirth of a Nation. His uninhibited style and intellectual approach have landed DJ Spooky on the cutting edge of the hip-hop world. His education and artistic merits have separated him from his DJ colleagues and have put him in a category all to his own. Rolling Stone magazine describes his work as "French-literary-theory-meets-Grandmaster-Flash-on-after-hours." DJ Spooky's style is probably best summed up by the music magazine Spin which calls his work "fluid, innovative and unexpectedly expressive·a celebration of limitless possibilities."
In Rebirth of a Nation DJ Spooky combines his mastery of the turntable with his artistic recreation of Birth of a Nation to explore modern society. By combining music and applied film footage, Miller traces the roots of America's quick-cut, media-saturated popular culture to D.W. Griffith's profoundly racist, disturbingly prophetic movie. Speaking about his production DJ Spooky says, "Rebirth of a Nation is intended to be a unified statement, collaging high-tech audio and video with live performance, addressing Griffith's work on both its technique and its content."
In Birth of a Nation DJ Spooky chose a film that has both caused race riots and evoked bountiful artistic praise. Birth of a Nation is explicitly and unabashedly racist, and was used as a Ku Klux Klan recruitment piece. However, it is also one of the single most important films featuring the technological advancements of the motion picture industry. When Birth of a Nation was released, it was censored in cities as large as Chicago, Denver, and St. Louis, but it was also the largest-grossing movie until it was surpassed over twenty years later by Disney's Snow White. Even President Woodrow Wilson, during a private screening at the White House, is reported to have exclaimed: "It's like writing history with lightning. And my only regret is that it is all terribly true."
DJ Spooky has been labeled a renaissance man, dabbling in everything from writing novels, to nightclub DJ'ing, to creating an opera based solely on smells. He has been featured in articles in the Village Voice, and he created the score for the movie SLAM, the Grand Prize winner at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival. His work as a visual artist has been featured in the Whitney Biennial and the Andy Warhol Museum. His career as a musician started as overnight DJ at the Bowdoin College radio station while he was a student. After school he joined the New York club scene and has quickly moved on to being one of the more popular and influential DJs in the New York circuit.
In combination with Rebirth of a Nation, Williams College will screen Birth of a Nation in its entirety on Saturday, February 22 at 7 P.M. in Goodrich Hall. The screening there will be followed by a panel discussion where DJ Spooky will be joined by Harry J. Elam Jr. and Craig Wilder. Harry Elam is a theater professor at Stanford University and is the Director of the Committee on Black Performing Arts there. Craig Wilder is presently a history professor at Dartmouth. His specialty is African-American communities and religious institutions in New York. Admission to this presentation will be free.
Rebirth of a Nation is co-presented with Williams College as part of the Stalwart Originality Conference: New Traditions in Black Performance. Stalwart Originality can be reached through its web page at http://www.williams.edu/acad-depts/theatre/stalwart2003/index.html. Dance/theater residencies and work-in-progress showings are made possible by the Bari Lipp Initiative for Dance.
Tickets for Rebirth of a Nation on February 28 are $15 general admission. Tickets are available through the MASS MoCA Box Office located on Marshall Street in North Adams from 11 A.M. until 5 P.M. every day but Tuesday. Tickets can also be charged by phone by calling 413.662.2111 during Box Office hours or online at www.massmoca.org at any time of day.
MASS MoCA, the largest center for contemporary visual and performing arts in the United States, is located off Marshall Street in North Adams on a 13-acre campus of renovated 19th-century factory buildings.
MASS MoCA 1040 MASS MoCA Way North Adams, MA 01247 413.MOCA.111 www.massmoca.org
For Immediate Release