The plan by LA-based art collaborative Fallen Fruit to plant fruit parks in Weinland Park and the South Side is moving forward at full steam, thanks to the enthusiastic support of volunteers, and of donors to our Buckeye Funder campaign. After hitting our initial Buckeye Funder goal of $5000 to cover basic costs of planting trees and bushes at the two locations, we created a new goal of $10,000 to help cover the ongoing maintenance costs. With just a few days left to hit that number—the campaign ends March 31—we asked a university partner in the know to shed some light on how the extra funds will be used.
Mike Hogan, an OSU Extension Educator and Associate Professor, has been working with the Fallen Fruit project as a technical advisor, and is coordinating the school's master gardeners to provide ongoing support for the fruit trees and bushes to be planted. As Mike explained, the project's unlike anything he's worked on before, and it's hard to say what the teams of volunteers maintaining the parks may run into over time, but there are some basic challenges when it comes to growing fruit.
"We will invariably have plants that don't make it, and they'll have to be replaced," he said. "There could also be a disease or a weather anomaly that may kill all the grape vines."
While OSU Extension will provide ongoing support for the parks, the responsibility for keeping them thriving will fall primarily on partners in the neighborhoods. The additional funds being sought will help ensure that a need for replacement plants—or just new pruning shears, or a fresh layer of mulch—will be covered for years to come.
Want to help make sure the fruit parks thrive? Click here.
We're saddened to report the passing on March 14 of Ms. Joyce Hughes, one of the Wex's dearest community partners (seen below wearing a gorgeous pink dress and a beaming smile). Friends are welcome to attend a memorial service for Ms. Hughes this Saturday, March 25 at 11:30 a.m. at Gateway Film Center, followed by a repast at 2:30 p.m. at 7th Avenue Community Missionary Baptist Church. Here's Youth and Community Programs Manager Jean Pitman, who worked closely with Ms. Hughes, on the community leader's lasting impact.
"In a way, in Weinland Park, Ms. Joyce was everyone’s big sister; she looked after us all." - Martin Weston and daughter, Cayla
Ms. Hughes was one of my most important recent mentors and while she will be deeply missed by so many, she was a true leadership role model to several women I know here in Columbus. She's left an ongoing legacy.
She taught me much about working with many kinds of people and situations in the moment, with grace (sometimes in large public forums), as well as about speaking your truth and being yourself. She taught me never to take myself too seriously, and to laugh at the absurdities all around me and at myself when necessary! She taught me the value of face-to-face, honest conversations. She taught me many more ways to bring the invisible into visibility in safe, positive ways.
Because of Ms. Joyce, I learned more about the good ways of putting your heart into your work. Ms. Joyce Hughes and Ms. Diane Dixon came to me in 2010 and asked if the Wex would come to their neighborhood, Weinland Park, to make some kind of contemporary art project with youth. As neighbors, we were thrilled, although none of us had any idea what that might look like! We all knew it would take time to see what made sense, so we took a couple of years to figure out what to do together.
Our first project was the Weinland Park Story Book, a Wex-produced graphic anthology of short stories and anecdotes from Weinland Park residents made into a comic book by around 40 area comic artists, from a five-year-old child living in the neighborhood to a seasoned professional artist at Marvel/DC working near Athens, Ohio. Artist Julian Dassai and I worked for years on curating this project with area teens, and Ms. Joyce provided unwavering support every step of the way as a consultant and driver—even though she had very little to go on 'til very close to the end! She believed in us and in her neighbors to make something brilliant and true, and we did.
This photo of several resident storytellers (including Ms. Cayla), teen intern artists (from inside and outside of the neighborhood), local professional artists, Ms. Joyce and myself at Godman Guild is from the day of the Weinland Park Story Book reception and exhibition, in June 2014. This day will always be a highlight to me both personally and professionally. Rest in power, Ms. Hughes, and thank you for showing us how to love and accept our neighbors as they truly are.
Watching silent cinema with music being made in the moment is an experience unlike any other. The combination of the antique and the immediate, along with the anything-can-happen element inherent to live performance, seems to stir a more visceral response than the average trip to the movies. The hunger for this unique experience has led to sellouts whenever we bring Alloy Orchestra to Columbus. Nashville electronic group Coupler witnessed the same effect first-hand when they performed the debut of their first silent film score, commissioned for a reconstructed and digitally restored version of the visionary scifi work Our Heavenly Bodiesby Nashville's historic Belcourt Theater, to a full house. We're happy that Coupler decided to take the show on the road and excited that they're bringing Our Heavenly Bodies to the Wex this week. Since this work is new to Columbus, we asked Coupler's founder, Ryan Norris, to share how the soundtrack came together.
Coupler photo: Kara Smash
"I've been interested in doing soundtrack work for a very long time and have been circling the target for a while," Ryan explained. "I've loved movies since I was a boy. As a writer of instrumental music rather than a 'songwriter', I've always had in mind that I'd like to do music for films. [The commission for Our Heavenly Bodies] seemed like a good starting point for this kind of work. I'm a fan of functionalism in music, and of music that is situational, e.g. dance music and ambient music. Obviously soundtrack music fits into these categories as well. Additionally, I find the imagery in the film very beautiful and hoped for us to create something that would compliment it well. "
For the "circling," Ryan pointed to recent shorts by filmmakers set to Coupler's music, like this one by his friend Jonathan Rogers, inspired by Danish filmmaker Jørgen Leth's 1967 film The Perfect Human (also the inspiration for Lars von Trier's The Five Obstructions), and this one by filmmaker Geoffrey Sexton. He's also flirted with film composition through "a soundtrack for an app-based book project that never quite came to fruition, and a collaboration between archival avant-garde filmmaker Bill Morrison and the band Lambchop, for which I wrote the music," Ryan noted.
In creating the soundtrack, Ryan referenced far-flung influences including Fela Kuti, Cluster, Lee Perry, Kraftwerk and Ennio Morricone. Other callouts:
"At its best, I think art points to other worlds, other possibilities," Ryan added. "With that in mind, I hope that our music for this film points not necessarily to the same world that the speculative science in the film points to, but another set of possible worlds. I think that with any work that speculates about the future, a certain amount of technophobia and existential dread are inevitable, and Our Heavenly Bodies has its share, though perhaps more from the perspective that technology can't necessarily save us. This is a very important topic for our times, in my view, and explains a lot about our political situation. An undercurrent of existential dread and technophobia has always played a part in Coupler's music (the first album is called, ambiguously, America in the Coming Age of Electronics) and I think the music here is no exception."
In conjunction with curator/writer/educator Genevieve Yue, Wex Film/Video Assistant Curator Chris Stults created the multi-part program Wild Sounds last year for Flaherty NYC, a seasonal screening series spotlighting innovative film work organized around a specific theme. As the program notes explain, "In the history of film in the West, the voices of men speak, allied with reason and language. Women’s voices, meanwhile, tend to sound, though they do so across a variety of registers: in music and song, from the disembodied voices of technological devices, through the mimicry of social norms, and through the politicized voices that shape constituencies and resist oppression. Just as the technical term 'wild sound' connotes a sound that’s recorded independently of the image, the wild sounds collected in this series escape social and filmic convention—charting the woman’s voice as it creates an alternative space where meaning is negotiated and generated anew."
We're excited to present a condensed version of Wild Sounds at the Wex this month, and to welcome Genevieve and contributor Cauleen Smith to help us close out the program on Tuesday, March 21. Cauleen, a groundbreaking interdisciplinary artist and Afrofuturist whose film work will soon be featured in the 2017 Whitney Biennial, presents three films in the program. These include the short Sine at the Canyon & Sine at the Sea, which the filmmaker began in 2010 but didn't call finished until 2016. It connects images of natural grandeur—a wooded canyon, waves crashing around a long pier—with archived footage from NASA, and mixes them with sounds ranging from the voice of white nationalist Richard Spencer to the voice of the artist herself, as her occasional alter ego, Kelly Gabron. The evolution of the film to its current form was prompted in part by the request from Chris and Genevieve to include the short in their program, and in part by the November election. We asked Cauleen to tell us a little more about this process. Join us next week to see the result, along with Cauleen's Chronicles of a Lying Spirit (by Kelly Gabron) and Entitled, and works by Carolyn Lazard, Anne Charlotte Robinson, and Martine Syms.
"I started it in 2010, and I used a silent version as a backdrop of a performance some students I was working with did. I intended to add sound but it never happened. I had it sitting on my Vimeo page. I just didn’t have a reason to finish it.
"Chris and Genevieve must’ve seen it on the page and they asked for it, but I said, 'It's not done. Let me finish it.' That was in June last year. Then the election happened, and that really changed everything. The original film I edited was a frothy ode to NASA—very much a NASA fan film, with a notion of exploration and returning to earth, and this optimistic idea of what you can learn when you go beyond what you know. That just seemed ridiculous with what we were facing.
"I had shot a bunch of footage that I had never bothered to edit in. I went back and looked at it, and strangely, it worked better. It seemed even more appropriate to the current climate: someone walking into the ocean and walking into a canyon. I was already thinking about movement, the most basic kind of movement, a sine wave—the foundation of everything. Also the key to space travel. I started playing with it, but it took some time, partly out of not knowing what to say. Then I thought, maybe the film could be just as inarticulate as I felt. These are frustrating times."
For International Women's Day, we have a story of how the Wex has helped bring a historic work about women's resistance to a whole new audience.
Wild Sounds, the film/video event presented in two programs this month, began as a larger series for Flaherty NYC last fall, co-curated by Wex Assistant Film/Video Curator Chris Stults and Genevieve Yue, an assistant professor of Culture and Media at The New School (FYI, Genevieve will be joining us for Program Two on March 21). One of the shorts selected for Wild Sounds is Somos + (translation: We Are More), a 1985 video created by the filmmaking team Kollectiv (Pablo Salas/pedro Chaskel) from footage shot during a protest that same year in Santiago, Chile. Organized by Mujeres por la Vida (Women for Life) against the Pinochet dictatorship, the protest filled the streets of Santiago's central Avenida Providencia, defying a year-long national state of siege. This incredibly powerful—and freshly timely—work captures the resolve of these women and their allies in the face of police reactions that evolve from polite condescension to violent antagonism.
Genevieve saw the film last spring in a Latin American program at the International Short Film Festival in Oberhausen, Germany. With the focus on women's voices in Wild Sounds, she felt that Somos + would be a natural fit, but she discovered that all English subtitled copies had been lost in the 30+ years since it was produced. Working with editor Paul Hill in the Wex Film/Video Studio, Chris secured a work copy and created a new version with English subtitles, ensuring that this important film could be seen and appreciated by modern English-speaking viewers. Since receiving the newly subtitled version of the work, Federico Windhausen, the curator who brought the short to Oberhausen, has shared it in programs at Los Angeles's Echo Park Film Center and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., with more screenings certain to come in the future.