“Cauleen Smith: The Wanda Coleman Songbook” at 52 Walker, New York

By Last Updated: February 16, 2024Views: 55

The Wanda Coleman Songbook is an immersive video set up that enlists scent, sight, and sound to discover the multidimensional depth of poems by Wanda Coleman (1946–2013). Coleman was broadly thought of the unofficial poet laureate of Los Angeles, and her work guided Smith’s reacquaintance with town after a sixteen-year absence. On the coronary heart of The Wanda Coleman Songbook listening room, guests are invited to drop a needle on the eponymously titled, limited-edition two-color vinyl 12-inch EP with commissioned contributions by Kelsey Lu, Shala Miller, moor mom and Aquiles Navarro, Meshell Ndegeocello, Jeff Parker and Ruby Parker, Alice Smith, and Jamila Woods and Standing on the Nook.

Additionally known as the “LA Blueswoman,” Coleman cultivated her fearless voice by way of the
metropolis’s myriad cultural and political landscapes, in addition to by way of initiatives just like the Studio Watts Workshop and her experiences writing for tv, modifying, educating, and performing. Invigorated by Coleman’s intimacies with and revelations within the metropolis, Smith familiarized herself deeply with the poet’s oeuvre after returning to Los Angeles in 2017 and thought of them alongside her personal histories and emotions of rediscovery there. At 52 Walker, Smith not solely creates a cinematic setting translating Coleman’s lyrical and adventurous verse but additionally a recent soundscape that captures the longing, tenderness, fury, and grief of the author’s poetry and prose, which so usually revealed the unruly and untamed elements of the key West Coast metropolis.

Carpeted in rugs and furnished with snug couches, The Wanda Coleman Songbook switches on all senses. Smith transforms the gallery area to create an environment akin to that of a dwell recording studio: buddies and familiars hanging out and symbiotically absorbing energies whereas advancing their respective tasks. The central hub of The Wanda Coleman Songbook is the file itself: Smith shared a collection of Coleman’s poetry with the taking part artists and invited them to interpret the author’s phrases. Spanning genres and experimentations, the commissioned songs on the EP mirror the collaborators’ heterogenous approaches to Coleman’s euphonious poems and in the end cohere to current a story that’s delicate to the textures of her Los Angeles. Cloaked in a brand new movie that Smith shot on location in fall of 2023, the partitions of the gallery envelop guests in panoramic transferring photographs that seize the anticipated Los Angeles clichés—the Hollywood Hills, palm bushes, Griffith Observatory—in addition to a Black Los Angeles that’s slowly disappearing into the cultural and geographical periphery.

A bespoke perfume designed by agustine zegers greets gallery attendees and brings to thoughts a hike in Griffith Park, Los Angeles’s largest public leisure space and the positioning of many impressionistic moments in Coleman’s life. Elements of her poems are printed onto blotters in order that guests can lengthen the temporal expertise of migrating scent past the gallery partitions whereas activating olfactory reminiscences of their very own.

at 52 Walker, New York
till March 16, 2024


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