Writer and musician David Grubbs will read from his new book, Records Ruin the Landscape: John Cage, the Sixties, and Sound Recording, at Corbett vs. Dempsey on Saturday, May 24th, at 3:00pm. Co-owner John Corbett will join him in conversation about the book, after the reading.

Press Release:

Records Ruin the Landscape: John Cage, the Sixties, and Sound Recording (Duke University Press) is David Grubbs’s long-awaited study of the role that sound recordings play in representing experimental music of the 1960s.  For this book launch event, Grubbs will give a reading from Records Ruin the Landscape and take part in a discussion with Branden W. Joseph, Lisa Kahlden, and Marina Rosenfeld.  The discussion will intermittently take the form of a jukebox jury, but one in which judgment is offered in the form of historical reflection equally oriented toward both music and jukebox.

John Cage’s disdain for records was legendary.  He repeatedly spoke of the ways in which recorded music was antithetical to his work.  In Records Ruin the Landscape, Grubbs argues that, following Cage, new genres in experimental and avant-garde music in the 1960s were particularly ill-suited to be represented in the form of a recording.  These activities include indeterminate music, long-duration minimalism, text scores, happenings, live electronic music, free jazz, and free improvisation.  How could these proudly evanescent performance practices have been adequately represented on an LP?

In their day, few of these works circulated in recorded form.  By contrast, contemporary listeners can encounter this music not only through a flood of LP and CD releases of archival recordings, but also in even greater volume through Internet file-sharing and online resources.  Present-day listeners are coming to know that era’s experimental music through the recorded artifacts of composers and musicians who largely disavowed recordings.  In Records Ruin the Landscape, Grubbs surveys a musical landscape marked by altered listening practices.

David Grubbs is an associate professor in the Conservatory of Music at Brooklyn College, CUNY, where he also teaches in the MFA programs in Performance and Interactive Media Arts (PIMA) and Creative Writing.  Grubbs has released twelve solo albums and is known for his cross-disciplinary collaborations with writers such as Susan Howe and Rick Moody, and with visual artists such as Anthony McCall, Angela Bulloch, and Stephen Prina.  He was a member of the groups Gastr del Sol, Bastro, and Squirrel Bait, and has performed with the Red Krayola, Will Oldham, Tony Conrad, Pauline Oliveros, and Loren Connors, among many others.

More information about the book here: http://www.dukeupress.edu/Records-Ruin-the-Landscape/

April 19th


Free and open to the public

In 1991, Sasha Frere-Jones formed the band Ui, which toured America and Europe and released five albums. He is also a co-founder of the arts collective BATAN.

In 1995, he started writing about music. He wrote for the Village VoiceSpin, the New York Times, the New York PostThe Wire, Slate, and Pretty Decorating. In 2004, Frere-Jones joined The New Yorker as a staff writer and pop-music critic.

His work has been anthologized in the Da Capo “Best Music Writing” series six times. He is currently working on several books.

Artist Charline von Heyl discusses her work in conversation with curator Katy Siegel. Von Heyl’s paintings and collages are featured in the first iteration of the Rose Projects series, The Matter That Surrounds Us: Wols and Charline von Heyl.

When: Wednesday, April 2, 6:00 pm

Where: Rose Art Museum, Lower Rose Gallert, 415 South Street, Waltham, MA 02453

Free and open to the public.

More information here: http://www.brandeis.edu/rose/programs/2014/vonheyltalk.html

In conjunction with the exhibition The Possible at the Berkeley Art Museum, Chicago-based writer and curator John Corbett will discuss the tension between collectivism and hierarchy in the work of Sun Ra, with special attention to the period he spent teaching at Berkeley in the late 1960s.

The Possible is an experimental exhibition that reconceives the museum as a site for creative convergence. You will have the chance to be a part of this evolving exhibition by engaging directly with an exciting array of visiting artists.

As an open platform for shared creativity and the exploration of diverse artistic techniques, The Possible combines studio, classroom, library, gallery, and stage. A multisensory library provides context and inspiration, while the galleries are reconfigured as a series of workspaces: a ceramics studio, dye lab, print shop, and recording studio. Collaborating with one another and the public, a diverse range of guest artists will use these studios to create new work in a public forum. The finished works will filter into a gallery installation, building the exhibition over time. We hope to inspire a spirit of experimentation, improvisation, and play by providing opportunities for artists to go deeper into familiar mediums, experience new practices, and work collaboratively. The studios will function as classrooms during a series of Sunday public workshops and audiences will also be invited to participate in discussions, performances, and field trips during the course of the exhibition. And bring the whole family to Kids Club, a special gallery devoted to engaging children in the creative process that is at the heart of this project.

The Possible is organized by guest curator David Wilson, with Director Lawrence Rinder. The project is supported in part by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; Carla and David Crane; the National Endowment for the Arts; a Craft Research Fund grant from The Center for Craft, Creativity & Design, Inc; and Joachim and Nancy Hellman Bechtle.

More information here: http://bampfa.berkeley.edu/exhibition/possible

Image: Sun Ra on location in Oakland, CA, for the filming of Space is the Place.



In conjunction with his solo exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago, artist Christopher Wool engages in discussion with Christine Mehring, University of Chicago professor and author of “Capitalist Realist Information Art” in the 2013 exhibition catalogue for Manfred Kuttner: Phänomene und Realitäten.

March 15, 2014
Fullerton Hall
Free with museum admission

Registration is not required for this program. More information here: http://www.artic.edu/event/conversation-christopher-wool-and-christine-mehring


Milford Graves & Joe McPhee
Richard Hell
James Nares’s Street, with Thurston Moore


Rubloff Auditorium, the Art Institute of Chicago
Thursday, March 13, 7pm



In celebration of Christopher Wool’s retrospective at the Art Institute of Chicago, Wool and School of the Art Institute professor John Corbett have curated Loose Booty, an evening of performance at 7pm on March 13, 2014, at the museum’s Rubloff Auditorium.  Three distinct performances will range across film, literature, and especially music, dovetailing in various ways with Wool’s exhibition.  James Nares’s 2011 film “Street,” which features a soundtrack by guitarist Thurston Moore, will be presented for the first time in Chicago, with Moore playing live with the screening.  Writer and punk progenitor Richard Hell will read from his recent work, which includes the 2013 autobiography I Dreamed I Was a Very Clean Tramp.  As a grand finale, groundbreaking drummer Milford Graves will play together with Poughkeepsie multi-instrumentalist Joe McPhee for the first time, a major event in contemporary jazz and only Graves’ second appearance in Chicago.



$25 per member; $30 per nonmember; $10 Students and S/AIC Staff and Faculty

Tickets are available online:  http://www.artic.edu/event/performance-loose-booty


Image: Milford Graves.

Drop Me Off In Harlem | The Sun Ra Archives with John Corbett

Saturday, March 8th, 12:00PM at the Studio Museum in Harlem

Tickets ($7.00) available here: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/600966


Press Release:

Drop Me Off In Harlem | The Sun Ra Archives with John Corbett

Two caches of Sun Ra materials in Chicago are housed at the University of Chicago’s Regenstein Library and at the Experimental Sound Studio’s Creative Audio Archive.  These archives, which came into existence out of the vast collection of Alton Abraham, Sun Ra’s manager and friend, and they constitute an invaluable repository of papers, artworks, magnetic tapes, and other objects available for study and inspiration.  Conceived in 2009 as a generative clearinghouse for information, the archives have prompted numerous responses, including artistic and musical projects that have emanated from the previously unknown materials.

In this presentation, John Corbett, one of the founders of these Sun Ra archives, will discuss their formation, the analogies between these archives and the kinds of archival materials that interested Sun Ra, and several of the specific artistic works to have been produced in reaction to the archives, including the film Noon Moons (2012, by The Eternals, Terri Kapsalis and Rob Shaw), Cauleen Smith’s Solar Flare Arkestra videos, and the New Myth/Old Science (2013) musical project of Mike Reed’s group Living By Lanterns.

Location: Theatre, Lower Level

About the Presenter:

John Corbett is a writer and independent curator based in Chicago, where he is co-owner of Corbett vs. Dempsey art gallery.  He is the author of Extended Play:  Sounding Off from John Cage to Dr. Funkenstein (Duke U. Press, 1994), as well as several books on Sun Ra.  He co-curated the Empty Bottle Festival of Jazz and Improvised Music (1996-2005) in Chicago, served as Artistic Director of JazzFest Berlin (2002), and co-curated (with Christopher Wool) events such as Nation Time at the Guggenheim Museum, New York (2013) and Loose Booty at the Art Institute of Chicago (2014).  Over the last 15 years, Corbett has produced more than 100 CDs of creative music, both on his Unheard Music Series and recently on the Corbett vs. Dempsey label.  His curatorial efforts include museum shows at the Chicago History Museum, Sullivan Galleries (Chicago), Brauer Museum of Art (Valparaiso, Indiana), and an upcoming exhibition titled Monster Roster at the Smart Museum, Chicago (2015).  With Terri Kapsalis and Anthony Elms, he curated the exhibition Pathways to Unknown Worlds:  Sun Ra, El Saturn & Chicago’s Afro-Futurist Underground, 1954-1968, which traveled from the Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago (2007) to the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, and the Durham Art Guild (both 2009).


About the exhibition The Shadows Took Shape:

The Shadows Took Shape is a dynamic interdisciplinary exhibition exploring contemporary art through the lens of Afrofuturist aesthetics. Coined in 1994 by writer Mark Dery in his essay “Black to the Future,” the term “Afrofuturism” refers to a creative and intellectual genre that emerged as a strategy to explore science fiction, fantasy, magical realism and pan-Africanism. With roots in the avant-garde musical stylings of sonic innovator Sun Ra (born Herman Poole Blount, 19141993), Afrofuturism has been used by artists, writers and theorists as a way to prophesize the future, redefine the present and reconceptualize the past. The Shadows Took Shape will be one of the few major museum exhibitions to explore the ways in which this form of creative expression has been adopted internationally and highlight the range of work made over the past twenty-five years.

The exhibition draws its title from an obscure Sun Ra poem and a posthumously released series of recordings. Providing an apt metaphor for the long shadow cast by Sun Ra and others, the exhibition features more than sixty works of art, including ten new commissions, charting the evolution of Afrofuturist tendencies by an international selection of established and emerging practitioners. These works span not only personal themes of identity and self-determination in the African-American community, but also persistent concerns of techno-culture, geographies, utopias and dystopias, as well as universal preoccupations with time and space.

The twenty-nine artists featured in The Shadows Took Shape work in a wide variety of media, including photography, video, painting, drawing, sculpture and multimedia installation. Participating artists include Derrick Adams, John Akomfrah, Laylah Ali, Edgar Arceneaux, Sanford Biggers, Edgar Cleijne + Ellen Gallagher, William Cordova (in collaboration with Nyeema Morgan and Otabenga Jones & Associates), Cristina De Middel, Khaled Hafez, Trenton Doyle Hancock, Kira Lynn Harris, Kiluanji Kia Henda, Wayne Hodge, David Huffman, Cyrus Kabiru, Wanuri Kahiu, Hew Locke, Mehreen Murtaza, Wangechi Mutu, Harold Offeh, The Otolith Group, Robert Pruitt, Sun Ra, RAMM:ΣLL:ZΣΣ, Lili Reynaud-Dewar, Larissa Sansour, Cauleen Smith, William Villalongo and Saya Woolfalk.

Accompanying the exhibition is a 160-page, fully illustrated exhibition catalogue (designed by Kimberly Varella of Content Object, Los Angeles), with twenty-nine artist entries and essays by the exhibition’s curators; an introduction by Studio Museum Director and Chief Curator Thelma Golden; and newly commissioned essays by foremost scholars and writers Tegan Bristow; Samuel R. Delany; Paul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky, That Subliminal Kid; Kodwo Eshun; and Alondra Nelson; and a tumblr page, shadowstookshape.tumblr.com.

The Shadows Took Shape is organized by Naima J. Keith, Assistant Curator at the Studio Museum and Zoe Whitley, independent curator.

This exhibition is on view through March 9, 2014.

Press Release:

Sunday, February 23rd at 7pm, $10

The Nightingale is thrilled to present this program of short works by Cauleen Smith, who will be present at Q&A following the screening.

Cauleen Smith is a prolific interdisciplinary media artist whose projects vary from short moving image works to installations to flash mob musical interventions in public spaces. Her work has been featured in contexts like The Robert Flaherty Seminar (1992), microcinemas like Massart Film Society, museums such as Chicago’s MCA (2012), and included in major exhibitions like the Whitney Biennial (2008). This program focuses on her continued engagement in the short film and video formats that started early in her artistic career with the success of Chronicles of a Lying Spirit by Kelly Gabron. Her short films and videos stylistic range traces lines across the history of the moving image, centered around her voice and vision that often articulates and visualizes the African American experience at an intimate and thought provoking level.

After earning a BFA with Trinh T. Minh-ha at San Francisco State University she went on to earn a masters at UCLA; inspired to go there by filmmakers of the LA Rebellion in particular Charles Burnett, Julie Dash, and Billy Woodberry. Cauleen brings this unique background a mix of production style filmmaking with experimental narratives to her short films. Her interest and use of formal techniques from across this varied landscape of moving images skillfully embellishes her work. While her early short films use formal strategies from America’s avant-garde and reference moments from films associated with the LA Rebellion, her later shorts tend towards reimagining popular and commercial narratives. Her work consistently reinvents stylistic devices to the tone of her voice with a critical insight into American culture.

Program Details:

1. Excerpt One from Remix for the Ark (2013) 2.5 minutes

2. Chronicles of a Lying Spirit (1989) by Kelly Gabron  6.5 minutes

3. Daily Rains (1990) 12.5 minutes

4. The White Suit (1998) 4.5 minutes

5. Excerpt Two from Remix for the Ark (2013) 3 minutes

6. The Changing Same (2001) 9.5 minutes

7. The Green Dress (2005) 14.5 minutes

8. Remote Viewing (2011) 15 minutes

9. Third Excerpt from Remix for the Ark (2013) 4 minutes

 Programmed by Ian Curry


For all general information and booking please contact:


1084 N. Milwaukee
Chicago, IL 60642

More information here: http://nightingalecinema.org/playing-her-part/#more-1456

NEW YORK – On March 6th, artist David Hartt opens The Republic, an exhibition of new photographs, film, and sculpture, at David Nolan Gallery.


CHICAGO – On Sunday, February 23rd, traveling from the Guggenheim in New York, Christopher Wool’s solo exhibition will open at the Art Institute of Chicago.


COLOGNE – From Thursday, April 10th through Sunday, April 13, Corbett vs. Dempsey will present a booth in the “Collaborations” section of Art Cologne, with a myriad of work from the gallery’s inventory selected by artist Charline von Heyl.