LSM Newswire

Thursday, February 18, 2010

"Release" Captured - New Music and Film Installation at Historic Prison

"Release" Brings Newly Found Footage of
Eastern State to Art Installation

Archival Film of Al Capone's Anticipated Release Incorporated
Into New Film and Music Project by Vijay Iyer and Bill Morrison

Philadelphia, PA (January 28, 2010) - Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site in Philadelphia, PA, will open a new site-specific art installation, "Release," bringing together film and music artists to work with newly found archival footage of the 1930 release of the notorious criminal Al Capone. "Release," created by filmmaker Bill Morrison and composer Vijay Iyer and curated by Julie Courtney, will open March 15, 2010, and run through November 30, 2010, corresponding to the 80th anniversary of Capone's release from the penitentiary. This project is a first-time collaboration between Morrison and Iyer, both renowned artists in their own fields. It will also mark the first time that archival footage of the penitentiary has been used in an art installation.

The footage, never before seen by the public, shows a crowd outside the prison walls anticipating the release of Al Capone from Eastern State Penitentiary. In actuality, he was released before the crowd assembled. Morrison's edit of the archival footage takes the first audible line, "The crowd seems to be getting bigger and bigger all the time," and builds on it, expanding the clip in both directions until it reveals at first a large crowd, then a desolate street, and finally the looming building overhead. Iyer's surround-sound composition is built around Morrison's cut. The real-world sounds in the found footage, including old-fashioned engines and car horns, horses' hooves, male voices, and a paperboy's sing-song, gradually transform into musical events that amplify the hypnotic structure of the film.

About the Artists

Vijay Iyer is a New York-based composer, performer, bandleader, and producer. He has released thirteen albums, most recently Historicity, which was named #1 Jazz Album of 2009 in the New York Times, NPR, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, and the Village Voice Annual Critics Poll. He has also composed orchestral and chamber works; scored for film, theater, radio, and television; collaborated with poets and choreographers; and joined forces with artists from various musical genres. Iyer received the Alpert Award in the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, and commissioning grants from the Rockefeller Foundation, the New York State Council on the Arts, Creative Capital, the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, American Composers Forum, Chamber Music America, and Meet The Composer. He has been published in Music Perception, Current Musicology, Journal of Consciousness Studies, Critical Studies in Improvisation, Journal of the Society for American Music, and the anthologies Uptown Conversation, Sound Unbound, and Arcana IV.

Bill Morrison's films and videos have been screened in theaters, museums, and concert halls worldwide, including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Museum of Modern Art, Royal Festival Hall, Sundance Film Festival, Tate Modern, and Walt Disney Concert Hall. Morrison is a Guggenheim fellow and has received the Alpert Award for the Arts, an NEA Creativity Grant, a Creative Capital grant, and a fellowship from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts. His work with Ridge Theater has been recognized with two Bessie awards and an Obie Award. In addition to his work with Iyer, Morrison will also premiere new collaborations in 2010 with Dave Douglas at Stanford Lively Arts, Jóhann Jóhannsson at the Durham (UK) Cathedral, and Ben Neill and Mimi Goese at BAM Next Wave 2010.

Julie Courtney has been an independent curator since 1991. She was founding director of The Temple Gallery from 1985-1988 and consulting curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art until 1992. In 1995 she co-curated Prison Sentences: The Prison as Site/The Prison as Subject at Eastern State Penitentiary, her first foray into commissioning site-specific projects in unusual spaces. In 1996 she curated Points of Departure: Art on the Line, a project of temporary site specific projects in 9 train stations. This project was in the first round of exhibitions funded by the Philadelphia Exhibition Initiative. Other PEI funded projects are Pandemonium, 2005, a percussive sound installation by Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller at Eastern State and The Lost Meeting, 2005, with J. Morgan Puett in an abandoned Quaker Meetinghouse in Jenkintown, PA and Mark Dion's Travels of William Bartram Reconsidered, 2007 at Bartram's Garden.

A packaged DVD of the "Release" film and music will be published to offer visitors to the site a way to re-experience the work after they have left the penitentiary. It will also offer those who are unable to view the work firsthand a way to experience it on their own. This DVD will be a lasting document of the installation as well as a new direction of artistic endeavor for the penitentiary and the artists.

"Release" has been funded by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage through the Philadelphia Exhibitions Initiative, the National Endowment for the Arts, Carole Haas Gavagno, and The Barra Foundation.

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