For the closing of the L.A. Rebellion series we have invited artist Ben Caldwell and Roger Guenveur Smith to develop an expanded performance drawing on their collaborative practice. The evening will feature the UK premiere of Roger Guenveur Smith's acclaimed solo performance Rodney King devised not long after King's death in 2012 and exploring the past and present of racism in America.
The powerful performance will build on past collaborations with Ben Caldwell stemming from their multimedia project KAOS TV 1991 produced in response to the media's reaction to the video of Rodney King's beating by members of the Los Angeles Police Department in 1991. Featuring musical passages by Marc Anthony Thompson and framed by Caldwell's multiple projection piece Spaces Looking In Looking Out conceived in collaboration with Roger Guenveur Smith in 1985 and Caldwell’s extensive archive assembled for his 1983 video collage Babylon is Falling.
Ben Caldwell and Roger Guenveur Smith have collaborated on a series of politically-charged multimedia performances since the early 1980s in parallel to Caldwell’s activities with the KAOS network and the seminal Project Blowed the longest-running hip hop collective in USA. The performance will speak to the current American moment and closes a thematic and tragic circle which was first drawn with the early collaborations between Caldwell and Smith and articulated in such titles as March of Progress, Endurance and United States of Emergency. This event is realised in collaboration Tate Collectives London and will feature additional guest performances by members of The A & The E as well discussion with Rianna Jade Parker and music by Kareem Reid of The Lonely Londoners.
Ben Caldwell is an independent filmmaker and arts educator. He first moved to Los Angeles to study film at UCLA and resided in Leimert Park, the epicenter for the African American art scene in the city. After teaching film and video at Howard University, Washington, D.C. 1981-84, Caldwell returned to Leimert Park and created an independent studio for video production and experimentation that became the KAOS Network, the only organisation of its kind in South Central Los Angeles. He founded the legendary Project Blowed in 1994, a weekly open-mic workshop that gave birth to rappers and groups such as Aceyalone, Medusa, Busdriver, Freestyle Fellowship and Jurassic Five.
Roger Guenveur Smith is an acclaimed actor, director and writer. He adapted his Obie Award-winning solo performance of A Huey P. Newton Story into a Peabody Award-winning film, directed by his long-time colleague Spike Lee in 2001. With Ben Caldwell, Smith created a series of multimedia presentations including Frederick Douglass Now 1990, played by Smith at the ICA and the seminal Keskidee Arts Centre. His many screen credits include Spike Lee's Do The Right Thing 1989 and Malcolm X 1992 as well as roles in Eve's Bayou 1997, All About The Benjamins 2002, American Gangster 2007, and the HBO series OZ and K Street. For the international stage, he has also created and performed works including Who Killed Bob Marley?, In Honor Of Jean-Michel Basquiat, Christopher Columbus 1992, Inside The Creole Mafia (with Mark Broyard) and most recently Rodney King.
Rianna Jade Parker is a reader of printed books, the biggest proof against anything but especially pain. Her curatorial, artistic and writing practices are as informed by bell hooks, Stuart Hall and James Baldwin as they are by Biggie and Lil' Kim.
Kareem Reid is an artist, curator, writer and DJ. After graduating with a BA Film and Literature from Warwick University, his research grew into curatorial practice with multi-disciplinary exhibitions as co-founder of The Lonely Londoners and he currently hosts a monthly club night for his queer black and brown peers, Body Party, at Ace Hotel Shoreditch.
The A & The E is a platform for the discussion of culture, philosophy and the arts. The A & The E takes part in a number of collaborative events and runs its own series of regular nights including Spaeking and Daencing. Performers tonight will be Amaal Said, Belinda Zhawi, and James Massiah.