I’ve seen both Elissa and Bradford before at the summertime BlackStar Film Festival and it is really exciting and interesting that they are doing an installation here. Philadelphia Contemporary is going to be an interesting institution for Philly in the next couple years. As it looks to insert itself into a hotly contested art debate around the arts, inclusion, and certainly dispossession/gentrification. Can we sustain another high-profile arts institution? What has happened to all the Black led arts institutions in the city? Even other, more working class centered alternative art spaces like Painted Bride…
Back and Song is a meditative four-channel film and art installation by filmmakers Elissa Blount Moorhead and Bradford Young, produced by Philadelphia Contemporary and Thomas Jefferson University. This kaleidoscopic installation reflects on the manner in which health and wellness are part and parcel of the American black experience from cradle to grave. Back and Song considers the labor and care provided by generations of black healers–doctors, nurses, midwives, morticians, therapists, and health aides–and their histories of contribution to, and resistance of, the flawed and discriminatory structures of Western medicine.
Working with archivists from around the world, Moorhead and Young have synthesized photographs of quotidian black family life into a time-based archive of expression. Paired with new footage, these archival compilations will emphasize forms of movement, rest, and ecstatic experience from across the African diaspora as crucial modes of healing and attunement to the body. Across four film channels, music, movement, sound therapy, ritual dance, rest, and meditation are brought together, presented as a spectrum of individual and communal pursuits of well-being. Cumulatively, these archival compilations demonstrate the complexity and interconnectedness of different modes of healing, and how the pursuit of health is at the root of how life, breath, joy and pain manifest in the black experience.
For more, visit: https://www.philadelphiacontemporary.org/back-and-song