May 27, 2008
of note

  Havana, Cuba  © julien de bock

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

 Editorial Director
Grace Aneiza Ali

Executive Editor
Art & Film Editor
Sandrine Colard

Photography  Editor
Julien De Bock

Book Editor
Clarence Haynes

Dance Editor
M. Soledad Sklate

Theater Editor
Stella Vincenot-Dash

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"art for social change"

If you've been following of note, and I hope you have, you know that this is a space where the artists and the artistic works presented demonstrate a commitment to global citizenship and social change.

I'm often asked what does "art for social change" mean exactly?  The term "change" has become highly politicized and prominently featured in the presidential campaigns of both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Of all the musings and definitions I've come across about the ways in which art serves as an effective tool for social change, for me the words of Tony Kushner, the Pulitzer Prize winning playwright of Angels in America, capture it best. What I find most profound in Kushner's articulation of what  can be a very complicated and nuanced  phrase, is not his emphasis on the political, but  rather on art that "rejoins community" and offers a sense of belonging. He says:

"Work that wears its politics proudly energizes me. Work that speaks clearly, intelligently, with sophistication about a social issue, political problem, or history; work that speaks in a voice I haven't heard, about things I haven't experienced; work by an artist who thinks it's important to point out injustice and oppression-this sort of work teaches me, entertains me, rejoins me with the community I most want to belong to, the part of human society that's politically progressive and actively engaged in making change."

And so although "change" might include working towards ending poverty or oppression or war,  which are all admirable, perhaps at its core, "change" is about recapturing that sense of community and belonging that we all need, but is often hard to find.

Excerpt:"How Do You Make Social Change?" Theater - Volume 31, Number 3, Fall 2001, pg. 62.

Grace Aneiza Ali


To submit reviews of arts events or editorials on the arts & people of color, please contact


Black Transculturalism
Wednesday, May 28 @ 6 pm

Several scholars and artists convene to discuss how notions of diaspora have been used to frame an international or globally relevant black art. They will consider both the appeal and critiques of this paradigm and explore the possibilities for renewed and alternative frameworks to describe the experience of transnationality.

Studio Museum Harlem
144 West 125th Street
New York, New York 10027

Anpu Varkey - 'Dead Souls'
On view through June 10
Opening Reception Thursday, May 29 @ 6:30

The strength in Varkey's works lie in her ability to convey the complex emotional and psychological states that belie our understanding of the physical. Her portraits seek a certain deep penetration into the individual's consciousness. It is as if she explores with each brushstroke the complex layers that have defined and continue to mold each of her sitters.

As a viewer, engaging with Anpu's works leads us to believe that she is seeking to conceive the idea of liberation. By doing away with personalized life like portraiture that is reminiscent of classical Western art or even some of her contemporaries such as Chuck Close, Anpu is closer to discarding the notion of singularity and embracing universality instead.
The Guild, NYC
45 West, 21st Street
2nd floor (Rear), Suite 39,
New York, NY 10010

y Lê: Events Ashore
On view through May 31

An-My Lê's latest series of photographs examine intersecting themes of scientific exploration, military power, environmental crises, fantasies of empire and the vast ungovernable oceans that connect nations and continents. Lê turns toward the seascape as both a historical tradition in visual art and as the site of a wide range of contemporary issues and anxieties.

Born in Saigon in 1960, An-My Lê came to the United States as a political refugee in 1975. She received an MS at Stanford University and an MFA in Photography at Yale University. 

Murray Guy
453 W. 17th Street
btw 9th & 10th Avenues
New York, NY 10011

Myths & Realities
Thursday, June 5 @ 6 pm

Global Fusion Art presents an exciting evening of art, music and more, inspired by myths and icons from around the world.  As we step into the multicultural realm shown in the work of participating artists, co-existing myths and realities demand reconciliation.

Global Fusion Art, a collective group of multicultural artists, raises awareness of the global community and promotes individuals and organizations that provide humanitarian services across the world. 

For this event, artists pledge 10% of sale price of artwork and event proceeds will be donated to the Oxfam Myanmar Cyclone Relief and Rehabilitation Fund.

The Sparks
161 West 22nd Street (6th & 7th Ave)
New York, NY, 10011

Oil on Landscape: Art from Wartime Contemporaries of Baghdad
On view through June, 21

From 2006 to 2007, a military liaison officer in the U.S. Embassy of Baghdad worked on the sidelines to develop relations with the artists of Baghdad.

Under extremely unlikely circumstances, several of Baghdad's artists trusted this military officer to share their art with the world. The scope of the exhibition includes works on Iraqi refugees, the children of war, genocide, and an Iraqi perspective on Shock and Awe.

Pomegranate Gallery
133 Greene Street
Manhattan, NY 10012

Adler Guerrier: Blck, Red & Tang
On view through June 28

Blck, Red & Tang, the first New York solo exhibition of Adler Guerrier, is  a collection of drawings, photographs and sculptures that  explores the use of language and the photographic image.

Guerrier's work is inspired by 60s and 70s Black Nationalism and by the ideas developed in the works of Chester Himes and Duke Ellington, and is then shaped into a voice sympathetic to poetic rebellion, dissent, and revolution.  The works also feature texts culled from broadsheets, pamphlets and graffiti of the French student movement from May '68. 

Newman Popiashvili Gallery
504 West 22nd Street
New York, NY 10011

Vietnam: A Memorial Work by Jun Nguyen-Hatsushiba
On view through August 3

This exhibition showcases a video installation entitled "Memorial Project Nha Trang, Vietnam: Towards the Complex-For the Courageous, the Curious, and the Cowards" by Jun Nguyen-Hatsushiba (born 1968), an artist of diverse backgrounds who considers himself Japanese Vietnamese American Vietnamese-Japanese. Filmed in 2001 in Nha Trang Beach, Vietnam, the work shows local workers pulling cyclos (rickshaws) underwater and serves as a metaphor for Vietnam's struggle with modernization, industrialization, and the process of coping with its historical past.

Asia Society and Museum
Ross Galleries
725 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10021

Ardeshir Mohassess: Art and Satire in Iran
On view through August 3rd

Art and Satire in Iran brings together nearly 70 rarely seen drawings by Ardeshir Mohassess, a self-taught artist with a philosophical sense of humor. His drawings express the ironic and absurd in the human condition as witnessed both before and after the Iranian Revolution in 1979.

Since the early 1960s, his elaborate tableaux as well as his simple, raw drawings created for newspapers and magazines have been exhibited in Iran, Europe, Asia, and the United States. This exhibition focuses on monochromatic ink drawings by this legendary artist that provide unique insight into Iranian history. Some of the works have never been publicly exhibited. 

Asia Society and Museum
Starr Galleries
725 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10021


Danse/Dance - Paris/New York
Thursday, May 29 @ 6 pm

Screenings to inaugurate a cultural exchange program between Cinémathèque de la Danse and the Jerome Robbins Dance Division of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.

Introduced by Patrick Bensard, the Cinémathèque's director.

Films Include: Josephine Baker in the Foiles Bergere; Katherine Dunham in Haiti; and Carmen Amaya Dances in Cuba.

NYPL for the Performing Arts
Bruno Walter Auditorium
40 Lincoln Center Plaza
New York, NY 10023

The Ugly Duckling @ The Dance Theatre of Harlem
Saturday, May 31 @ 6 pm  & Sunday, June 1 @ 5 pm

Peaches, Plums, and Pontifications: Olu Dara & Dianne McIntyre
Tuesday, June 3 - Wednesday, June 4 @ 8 pm

In this new work-in-progress, acclaimed dancer/choreographer Dianne McIntyre explores stories from the Mississippi Delta, the writings of Zora Neale Hurston, as well as tales gathered from individual storytellers, friends and family.

Joining McIntyre is celebrated music master, storyteller, trumpeter, bluesman, folk singer, jazz artist, avant garde innovator, comedian and storehouse of African American music history, Mississippi native - Olu Dara. A multidimensional company of artists including Camille A. Brown, Tess Reese, Kyle Primous, and Shireen Dickson make up the cast.

Read the New York Times' feature, "Telling Stories in Many Shades of Delta Blue."

BRIC Studio
647 Fulton Street
Brooklyn, NY 11217

Photo: Laceine Wedderburn (front) and Shireen Dickson in "Pieces of Pieces," a program devoted to the McIntyre-Dara collaboration. (NYT)

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater @  BAM
Tuesday, June 3 to Sunday, June 8

The Joyce Theater presents Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (AAADT) in two exhilarating programs. The "Classic Ailey" program, dedicated to choreography by Alvin Ailey, will feature the revival of Masekela Langage, a masterpiece which hasn't been performed in a decade, as well as the incomparable Revelations, a galvanizing tour de force celebrating African American cultural heritage that ranks as one of modern dance's most affecting works.

The "Best Of" program includes selections from AAADT's dynamic repertory (including Revelations) as well as The Groove To Nobody's Business by emerging choreographer Camille A. Brown. Urban, athletic, and engaging, this explosive new work plants Ailey's vision firmly in the 21st century, ensuring that AAADT's future will be as rich as its past.

BAM Howard Gilman Opera House
Peter Jay Sharp Building
30 Lafayette Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11217

Dancing Across Cultural Borders
Wednesday, June 4 - Sunday, June 8


Sufi Poetry and the Metaphor of  'Drunken Love'
Tuesday, May 27th @ 6:30 pm

One of Iran's foremost scholars of Sufi love mysticism, Dr. Nasrollah Pourjavady, will speak on the Sufi metaphor of 'drunken love' in the context of Persian poetry.

Dr.  Pourjavady has more than twenty published books and numerous scholarly articles in the fields of Islamic mysticism, philosophy, and Persian literature. He also served as the general editor of a monumental three-volume book on Iranian art and culture, "The Splendor of Iran" (2001).

Asia Society and Museum
8th Floor
725 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10021

The Beautiful Struggle by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Tuesday, May 27 @ 7 pm

New York writer Ta-Nehisi Coates creates an exceptional father-son story with his memoir The Beautiful Struggle: the story of his father, Paul Coates, his brother Bill, and their childhood in inner-city Baltimore. Paul Coates was a Vietnam vet who rolled with the Black Panthers and an autodidact who launched a publishing company in his basement dedicated to telling the true history of African civilization.

With a remarkable ability to reimagine both the lost world of his father's generation and the terrors and wonders of his own youth, Coates offers readers a small and beautiful epic about boys trying to become men in inner city Baltimore.

McNally Robinson
52 Prince St.
btw Lafayette and Mulberry
New York, NY 10012

Breach of Peace: Portraits of the 1961 Mississippi Freedom Riders
Wednesday, May 28 @ 7:30 pm

Journalist Eric Etheridge talks about his book of photographs and interviews, for which he tracked down over seventy of the Freedom Riders who were arrested and served prison time for challenging Mississippi state segregation laws in the spring and summer of 1961. Their original mug shots appear in the book alongside Etheridge's striking contemporary portraits. Three of the Freedom Riders featured in the book will take part in the discussion.

Presented in partnership with QBR/The Black Book Review and the Harlem Book Fair.

Peter Norton Symphony Space
2537 Broadway @ 95th Street
New York, NY 10025


Homage to Ousmane Sembène
Tuesday, May 27 @ 7 pm

Revered patriarch of African Cinema. Uncompromising critic of colonial regimes. Astute chronicler of urban Senegal-Ousmane Sembène inspired an entire continent's cultural awakening through both literature and film.

To close World Nomads, FIAF turns to Sembène and his irreplaceable body of work. Close friend of Sembène, Dr. Mamadou Diouf, director of Columbia University's Institute for African Studies, officiates over an intimate evening to include personal reminiscence, readings, a screening of Sembène's seminal film Borom Sarett, and an original sound score performed by the inimitable DJ Spooky.

Florence Gould Hall
55 East 59th Street
Btw Park & Madison Avenues
New York, NY 10022

The Agronomist @ IFC
Discussion with Dir. Jonathan Demme and Filmmakers
Tuesday, May 27  8 pm

A magnificent documentary about the life of Jean Dominique, a Haitian radio broadcaster who was, until his murder in 2000, a brave and tireless voice for democracy and human rights in that unlucky country. In part, the film is a chronicle of that bad luck, as Haiti alternates between chaos and authoritarianism, with glimmers of hope quickly giving way to compromise, corruption and violence.

By the end of the film, you come not simply to admire Dominique; you want to count yourself, as Mr. Demme clearly does, among his friends. Unfortunately, you will also have a clear sense of his enemies, the gangsters and strongmen who have run Haiti, usually with American support, for most of its modern history. - A. O. Scott, New York Times

IFC Center
323 Sixth Avenue
New York, NY 10014

ContemporAsian: Mukhsin
Wednesday, May 28 @ 6 pm

Called the Godmother of the new Malaysian digital cinema, Director Yasmin Ahmad creates films that draw from experiences close to her own life. Her Orked trilogy is set in the world of today's most culturally diverse societies-providing ample opportunity for conflicts of color and creed, prejudice and taboo.

Mukhsin, the third film in the trilogy (but the earliest in the story's chronology), portrays the filmmaker's alter ego, Orked, and her best friend, a boy named Mukhsin, as they enter adolescence and their relationship changes character. Portrayed with deep humanism and a liberating sense of humor, Mukhsin completes the trilogy's multidimensional portrait of a woman from childhood to adolescence to marriage.

The Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53 Street
btw Fifth and Sixth Avenues
New York, NY 10019

Divine Horsemen:  The Living Gods of Haiti
Wednesday, May 28 @ 1:30 pm

Divine Horsemen: The Living Gods of Haiti (1977)  explores the Voudon religion and rituals of Haiti.

The Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53 Street,
btw Fifth and Sixth Avenues
New York, NY 10019

Ballast @ Sundance Institute at BAM
Saturday, May 31 @ 9 pm

Three people are radically transformed as they grapple with another man's suicide in Ballast. In a rural Mississippi Delta township, a single mother and her drifting son are offered refuge in a new home, but must share the property with a man whose feud with the mother has been ongoing for years.

Amidst their tensions and grief, they must cobble together a future in their shared space. Local non-actors deliver nuanced performances stemming from their organic connections to the material, and first-time director Lance Hammer masterfully executes the aesthetic of understatement. Winner of the Dramatic Directing Prize and Excellence in Cinematography.

Peter Jay Sharp Building
30 Lafayette Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11217

The Linguists @ Sundance Institute @ BAM
Monday, June 2 @ 6:40 pm

Speaking 25 languages between them, professors David Harrison and Gregory Anderson explore the remote corners of the globe in search of endangered languages.

Time is of the essence as these academics set off to research and document some of the world's threatened native tongues in a race to preserve the words and heritages of indigenous populations. NY Premiere!

Peter Jay Sharp Building
30 Lafayette Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11217

American Son @ Sundance Institute at BAM
Monday, June 2 @ 9:40 pm & Wednesday, Jun 4 at 6:40 pm

This darkly vivid and romantic portrait of the passage from adolescence to adulthood tells the story of a young Marine just before he is shipped off to Iraq.

When Mike returns home for what could be the last time, his four-day stay is colored by a rapidly evolving romance, an unstable best friend, and his disintegrating family life. Mike's decision to keep secret the location of his deployment further complicates his situation. Nick Cannon and Melonie Diaz deliver sterling performances as director Neil Abramson crafts a film that is emotionally powerful, realistic, and insightful.

Peter Jay Sharp Building
30 Lafayette Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11217

A Jihad for Love
Now playing

A groundbreaking look at gay and lesbian Muslims, A Jihad for Love uncovers a hidden face of the world's fastest-growing religion. Shot over five years in 12 countries, this moving documentary explores reconciling faith with sexuality in societies where "debauchery" can be punished by imprisonment and even death.

Embodying the literal meaning of jihad as "inner struggle," the film's subjects reveal the hopes of a community fighting for its place in the heart of Islam.

Read the New York Times' review, "Torn by the Contradictions of Being Gay and Muslim."

IFC Center
323 Sixth Avenue
New York, NY 10014

Beyond New York:
Real Life Pan-African Documentary Film Festival - Ghana
May 31 - June 6

The West African Documentary Forum announces its 3rd annual Real Life Pan-African Documentary Film Festival in Accra between May 31st. and June 6th 2008. 52 films from Africa and its diasporic world will be freely shown in 4 venues across Accra during the festival. The festival will provide a forum for showcasing innovative and historical documentaries on African and African diasporic communities and themes.


New Africa Live
Friday, May 30 @ 9 pm

New Africa Live is a movement to carve out a cultural space of belonging for the New African experience by producing art events that entertain, educate and create awareness on the value of African culture in a globalized world. These events strive to challenge homogenized notion of African cultural expression and celebrate New African artists who work in a multitude of languages, rhythms, media and genres. Ultimately, the movement hopes to forge a thriving arts community, which embraces a cosmopolitan spirit, urban hybridization and most importantly pride in the rich heritage of their homelands.

Zipper Factory
336 W. 37th Street
btw 8th & 9th Avenues
New York, NY

The Migrations Concert 
benefiting the Center for Immigrant Families
Sunday, June 1 @  4 pm

Join acclaimed violinist Daniela Romacker as she moves from the sounds of Asia and the Middle East to those of nomad populations, from India to Egypt, from Nubia to Sindh. This is an extraordinary offering by a violinist who has rediscovered the existence of a universal language which translates into an emotional, primal sound.

Concert proceeds support the Center for Immigrant Families' organizing for justice and equity in our public schools and the Escuela Popular de  Mujeres/Women's Popular Education Program.

Judson Memorial Church
55 Washington Square South
btw Sullivan and Thompson Streets
Manhattan, NYC

Reel Rhythms World Music Film Festival: Africa
June 1 - 24

The 4th New York film festival on music from around the world focuses on the rhythms, drumming and dancing of Africa, bringing its diverse and vibrant peoples and cultures to the screen in documentaries and live concert footage.

Peter Norton Symphony Space
2537 Broadway @ 95th Street
New York, NY 10025-6990

Toshi Reagon and BIGLovely
Sunday, June 1 @  7 pm

Toshi Reagon credits her musical chops to her parents' activist and musician roles in the Civil Rights movement. While defying categorization, Reagon's musical style has roots in the American south and Delta Blues traditions.

Her music is powerfully soulful and clearly rooted in folk, gospel and the blues.  Reagon has followed in her mother's footsteps (internationally revered founder of Sweet Honey In the Rock, Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon) as a woman who uses her artistry to raise political consciousness as well as to blend diverse American musical forms into a distinct contemporary genre all her own.

Brooklyn Masonic Temple
317 Clermont Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11205

Tuesday, June 3 - Wednesday, June 4 @ 8 pm & 10: 30 pm

These are exciting times in music; a return to purity, risk-taking and truth-telling. Bilal is s part of the loose-knit Soulquarian collective,  melding  hip-hop aesthetics with neo-soul vocals and clear jazz influences.

His prodigious debut album 1st Born Second (Moyo Music/ Interscope), is a symbolic raising of the bar, worthy of critical examination. At barely twenty-one years old, Bilal is clearly possessed with that oldest instrument: the Voice.

Blue Note
131 W. 3rd St
New York, NY 10012

Lionel Loueke  with Somi
2008 BAM Rhythm & Blues Festival
Thursday, June 5 @ 12 pm

Born in Benin, the remarkable Brooklyn guitarist Lionel Loueke possesses a distinctive sound that blends African rhythms with modern jazz sensitivities. During his remarkably fast rise, Loueke has appeared on high-profile recordings with Terence Blanchard, Angélique Kidjo, and most notably on pianist Herbie Hancock's Grammy-winning River: The Joni Letters.

Afropop/soul/jazz vocalist and songwriter Somi, a Brooklyn native, explores her East African musical heritage, buoyed by Loueke's compositional skills and guitar prowess.

BAM Rhythm & Blues Festival
MetroTech Concert Stage
Lawn at MetroTech Commons
Civic Center / Borough Hall
Flatbush and Myrtle Avenues

Corey Harris and Lobi Traoré

Friday, June 6  @ 8 pm

Corey Harris is a pilgrim in search of his music's earliest origins, from beyond the Mississippi to the continent of Africa.  Harris is an explorer of many styles, with sounds ranging from blues to reggae, hip hop, Latin, funk, and R&B. His critically-acclaimed albums include Mississippi to Mali; Daily Bread; and Zion Crossroads.

In addition to his prolific work in the recording studio, Harris also starred in the Martin Scorsese documentary, Feel Like Going Home, an installment that took him to Mali for the blues series that aired on PBS in 2003. In 2007, Harris was awarded a MacArthur Award for excellence.

From Bamako to Brooklyn, Malian guitarist and vocalist Lobi Traoré embodies the full power of the African diaspora. Traoré is called the inventor of Bambara blues - a sound which is associated with the Bambara people of Mali.

Kumble Theater for the Performing Arts
1 University Plaza
Flatbush Avenue
btw DeKalb and Willoughby
Brooklyn, NY 11201

of note

Grace Aneiza ali

Sandrine Colard

Julien De Bock

Clarence Haynes

Stella Vincenot-Dash

Questions and Submissions


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. Its mission is to increase our access to and participation in the arts that celebrate people of color. The artistic works presented by
of note demonstrate a commitment to global citizenship and social change.

© of note  2008. All Rights Reserved.