April 7, 2008
of note

  Clarksdale, Mississippi,  2007  
julien de bock.  juldeb@gmail.com 

of  note 
 celebrates the arts, culture, and history of our distinct yet intersecting diasporas. It is a space where art meets activism, empowerment, and social  responsibility.

Grace Aneiza Ali

Executive Editor
Sandrine Colard

Photo Editor
Julien de Bock

Book Editor
Clarence Haynes

Featured in this Issue
FOCUS: Thomas Sayers Ellis
Amer: Love Has No End
Gandhi: The Legacy
Nepal in Black & White
A Changing Afghanistan
Black Intellectuals
Black Renaissance Noire
Sacred Dances of Nepal
Alvin Ailey II
The Greatest Silence
African Film Festival
Havana Film Festival
Indian Film Festival
Tuya's Marriage
Malika Zarra @ BAM
Somi & Chanda Rule
Siswe Banzi is Dead

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This week, Time Out (New York) posed a critical question to patrons and enthusiasts of the arts, "Who are the men and women behind the curtains at New York's [art] institutions, and how do they determine what to program?" Featured in the article were the "cultural gatekeepers" of film, theater, art, music, and dance.

Glaringly absent from the list were people of color.
of note was created from this kind of absence. It is committed to increasing access to and participation in the arts celebrating people of color. 

In a city as diverse as New York, it is equally telling as it is problematic, the  lack of people of color deciding what we see.  In a city where artists continue to find innovative ways to celebrate the diaspora and tell their own stories, we have to ensure that these narratives are heard and valued - from the folks running the art institutions to members of the public.

In response to the Time Out article, who do you regard as our "cultural gatekeepers?"

Grace Aneiza Ali


A Graphic Mystery
Written by Mat Johnson
Art by Warren Pleece

Mat Johnson combines his fiction and historical leanings in a handsome, elegantly packaged graphic novel, Incognegro.

The story follows the tribulations of Zane Pinchback, an African-American reporter for a New York newspaper who is light enough to pass for White. Dubbed  "Incognegro" by himself and those in the know, Zane infiltrates violent lynch mobs in the South to record strange-fruit stories for Northern readers. After he barely escapes with his life on a foiled assignment, he returns to the South to rescue his brother, who is accused of killing a White woman.

Incognegro was inspired by Johnson's upbringing as a light-skinned African-American boy growing up in the Black Power era. Feeling as though he didn't blend in, Johnson imagined a time where his hue could be an asset. His interest in writing Incognegro further developed when he learned of Walter White. A former head of the NAACP, White too had passed to investigate Southern lynchings during the early 20th century.

 Clarence Haynes


Thomas Sayers Ellis

This week, of note's FOCUS  is poet and photographer Thomas Sayers Ellis. Featured below is "Go-Go  Hand at the Washington Monument," taken last year for his ongoing project The Go-Go Book: People in the Pocket in Washington, D.C. 

Reflecting on how the shot evolved, Ellis writes:

"My hopes were to skim the surface of the crowd, creating a horizon line of dark bodies. I remember  seeing a hand raise very quickly as I snapped the photo.  I love the way the black bodies form a wider and stronger ring around the flags that circle the enormous, white, bloodless obelisk. This photo proves that Go-Go, home or abroad, was born national."

Go-Go Hand at the Washington Monument, TSE  2007

Thomas Sayers Ellis is the author of  The Maverick Room (Graywolf Press 2005) and Song On, a chaplet. He teaches writing at Sarah Lawrence College and has photographs forthcoming in Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Art, Washington Square, Lumina, and Indiana Review. The current issue of  Waxpoetics features his interview with Chuck Brown, the Godfather of Go-Go. 

Read more about his work at  www.tsellis.com


Ghada Amer: Love Has No End
On view through October 19

Ghada Amer: Love Has No End, the first U.S. survey of the renowned Cairo artist's work, features some fifty pieces from every aspect of Amer's career as a painter, sculptor, illustrator, performer, garden designer, and installation artist.

Amer is a multimedia artist whose entire body of work is infused with the same ideological and aesthetic concerns. The submission of women to the tyranny of domestic life, the celebration of female sexuality and pleasure, the incomprehensibility of love, the foolishness of war and violence, and an overall quest for formal beauty, constitute the territory that she explores and expresses in her art.

Image: Ghada Amer, Red Diagonales, 2000.

Brooklyn Museum
200 Eastern Parkway
Brooklyn, NY 11238


Gandhi: The Legacy
April 10 - April 23

Gandhi: The Lecacy captures a nostalgic view of Mahatma Gandhi's true legacy.

Gandhi has inspired many of the world's greatest political leaders and freedom fighters, including Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, and Abdul Gafar Khan who fought for equality following the dictums of Ahimsa - non-violence and  Satyagraha - clinging to truth.  Focusing on key events in Gandhi's life along with rare family portraits, the photos reflect his unique and inspirational vision of humanity.

In addition The Satya Graha Forum is coordinating  a series of events throughout New York City on the continuing relevance of Gandhi's message of non-violence.

Tamarind Art Gallery
142 E. 39th Street
New York, NY 10016

Nepal in Black and White
On view through October 13

Nepal in Black and White  presents a portion of the work that Kevin Bubriski produced over his 35 years of visits to Nepal. The strong idiom of the black-and-white photography in both the early and later images shows the remotest mountain regions of Nepal and its people. These photographs are historical documents, anchored in time, of a place that has gone through significant change.

"The realization that not only my camera but also the modern world was making ever-increasing intrusions into even the most remote areas of Nepal compelled me to document a time and way of life slipping inexorably into the past."
- Kevin Bubriski

The Rubin Museum of Art
150 West 17th Street
& 7th Avenue                                                                                           

New York, NY 10011

Documenting a Changing Afghanistan
On view through June

The Paley Center for New Media looks at the work of photographer Andrew Xenios who is elucidating the social and technological changes in Afghanistan. At the crossroads of Eastern and Western Asia, Afghanistan has always been culturally diverse. Now it  is attempting to redefine itself for the 21st century after years of political turmoil: women are pushing for equal rights after the 2001 overthrow of the Taliban, while technology is being incorporated into the traditional patterns of an old society to unite the country.

The Paley Center for New Media
25 West 52 Street
New York, NY 10019


Betrayal: How Black Intellectuals Have Abandoned the Ideals of the Civil Rights Era
Tuesday, April 8 @ 6:00 pm

Author, Houston A. Baker Jr. is frustrated with the state of, or rather, the lack of racial activism today. Part of the blame rests with contemporary neoconservatives, who Baker claims have sabotaged the civil rights and black power movements by promoting racial injustice under a banner of social equality.

But Baker is most bothered by prominent black intellectuals who purport to advance civil rights. In Betrayal, Baker lambastes Cornel West, Michael Eric Dyson, Shelby Steele, Henry Louis Gates Jr., and others for disingenuous politics, centrism, and above all the vainglorious pursuit of academic and political influence at the expense of the broader black majority, who still suffer from social and economic injustice.

Hue-Man Bookstore & Cafe
2319 Frederick Douglass Blvd
Btw 124th and 125th Streets
New York, NY 10027

Black Renaissance Noire
Reception for Winter/Spring 2008 Issue
Friday, April 11 @  7 pm

The Institute of African American Affairs presents a reading and  reception release party for the recent Winter/Spring 2008 issue of  Black Renaissance Noire - a publication featuring essays, poetry, fiction, photography, art, and reviews that address the full range of contemporary Black concerns. RSVP to (212) 998-4222

Institute of African-American Affairs
New York University
41 East 11th Street,
7th Floor
New York, NY 10003


Sacred Dances of Nepal
Sunday, April 13 @ 4:30 pm

Charya Nritya, a rare Buddhist dance form, dates back over 1,000 years and is a religious discipline of the priests of the Kathmandu Valley, who perform the dance as part of their esoteric meditations and rituals.

Each dance bodies forth a different Buddhist deity, such as Avalokiteshvara, Green Tara, or Vajrapani. The performer dances in a state of deep meditative awareness in order to tap into the divine energies and embodies the living presence of the deities.

The Rubin Museum of Art
150 West 17th Street
& 7th Avenue
New York, NY 10011

Alvin Ailey II at The Joyce Theater
April 30 - May 8

Ailey II 's young dancers are the most talented of their generation, captivating audiences nationwide with their stirring, passionate performances.

This celebrated return engagement will exhilarate audiences with the dynamic spirit and electrifying energy of new works including Troy Powell's The External Knot, Stephane Boko's Fragile and When Dawn Comes, a new piece by Christopher L. Huggins.

Photo by: Eduardo Patino, NYC

The Joyce Theater
175 8th Avenue
@19th Street
New York, NY 10011


The Greatest Silence
Broadcast premiere on HBO, April 8 @ 10pm

Shot in the war zones of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), The Greatest Silence  shatters the silence that surrounds the shocking plight of women and girls who, caught in this country's intractable conflict, are being systematically kidnapped, raped, mutilated and tortured by soldiers from both foreign militias and the Congolese army.
*Sundance Film Festival, Special Jury Prize: Documentary
*London Human Rights Watch Int'l Film Festival, Best of Fest
*One World Int'l Human Rights Documentary Film Festival, Prague
*Addis Int'l Film Festival on Rights and Justice, Addis Ababa

African Film Festival, New York
April 9 -  May 26

The New York African Film Festival will celebrate 40 films from 22 countries throughout Africa and the African Diaspora, emphasizing history and storytelling, technology and the future. This year's Festival, "Cinema and History: Africa and the Future," will mark the 50th anniversary of the independence of Guinea-Conakry from colonial rule.

Havana Film Festival, New York
April 11 - 17

The Havana Film Festival, New York has been selected by the New York City Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs as an official Immigrant Heritage Week event.

The Festival will present the latest trends in Latin American and Latino filmmaking by bringing the work of actors, directors, and producers from 12 nations to the New York metropolitan area.

Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles
April 22 -  27

Celebrating its 6th anniversary, the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles has established itself as the first and largest film festival in North America dedicated to presenting the cinema of India by showcasing films by Indian and international filmmakers that cross boundaries to tell compelling stories of the Indian Diaspora.

Tuya's Marriage
Now playing

Lest you think that Tuya's Marriage is an ethnographic curiosity, Director Wang Quan portrays a world set in Inner Mongolia, that, apart from its hardship, is thoroughly recognizable in its human complexity. Its characters are motivated by the same needs for companionship and material well-being and the same demons - greed, lust, jealousy and despair - that drive everybody.

The film observes the fascinating rites of courtship and the dealmaking by Tuya, a strong, unsentimental woman who knows what she wants and drives a hard bargain.

Excerpted  from Stephen Holden, New York Times

                                                                                                                                                                            Image: Yu Nan in the title role in "Tuya's Marriage." 

Cinema Village
22 East 12th Street
Greenwich Village
New York, NY 10003


Malika Zarra
Saturday, April  12 @ 10 pm

Self-described as a "multi-cultural shape shifter", Moroccan jazz singer/composer/producer Malika Zarra finds common ground in such uncommon places as Arabic working-class blues, religious trance music, and American jazz.

BAMcafe Live
Peter Jay Sharp Building
30 Lafayette Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11217

Somi and Chanda Rule @ The Apollo Salon Series
Friday, April 25 and Saturday, April 26  @ 7:30 pm

Vocalists Somi and Chanda Rule explore the concept of a contemporary African Diaspora through a multimedia performance piece, tracing the tensions between conventional African-American culture and other communities of African descent in the West. Their collaboration, Listening to Roots, uses song, spoken word, movement, and photography to investigate cultural differences which are simultaneously a source of conflict and strength.

The Apollo Theater
253 West 125th Street
Btw Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Blvd
& Frederick Douglass Blvd.
New York, NY 10027


Sizwe Banzi is Dead
Tuesday, April 8 - Sunday, April 13

 Photo: Harold Gess

Delicately balancing humor and pathos, Sizwe Banzi Is Dead offers both a psychological history of the South Africa apartheid nightmare and a timeless parable of the dehumanizing paradoxes of power. Ordered to leave a district because he lacks the proper permit, Sizwe trades his name for a number and begins life as a dead man, wreaking havoc with his identity and sense of right and wrong.

Saturday, April 12 @ 3 pm, join panelists for a discussion on the changes in South African theater since the first production of Sizwe Banzi is Dead in 1972.

BAM Harvey Theater
651 Fulton Street
btw Ashland Place and Rockwell Place
Brooklyn, NY 11217


Special thanks to Richard Blint, Nicole Martin, and Thomas Sayers Ellis for their contributions to this week's issue.

For questions, comments, and submissions contact us at  ofnotemagazine@gmail.com


For many of us, the arts are central and inspirational to our life, work, and activism. As people of color, we are making great strides in terms of our representation on the stage, yet we are not equally represented in the audience. Even when it is work celebrating our histories, experiences, and cultures - we are often scantily present in the theaters, auditoriums, galleries, etc. Out of that absence, of note was created. It is a publication whose mission is to inform the community about noteworthy events, with the larger goal of increasing our access to and participation in the arts celebrating people of color.