“I like to build graphic scores. I like to create scores that are considered art objects, and they’re giving me the opportunity to build a pretty massive one.” Matana Roberts discusses her five-day residency for i call america.
Throughout the summer of 2015, Chicago–born, New York City–based sound experimentalist Matana Roberts has been engaged in a series of open-ended public explorations as part of an extended residency. She has titled this series of research-based sound excavations i call america, building on the title of the Whitney's inaugural exhibition, America Is Hard to See.
After a live improvisation on June 4 in which she addressed No Title (1969–70) by Eva Hesse, Roberts revisited the Whitney's galleries on July 19 for three focused, improvisatory happenings. From August 5 to 9, she builds on these explorations, experimenting with new material combining sound, video, and visual scores during a five-day open studio in the theater. These actions will culminate in the creation of a large-scale project to be presented this winter, which will question, in Roberts’s words, “the perplexities of what it means to be American in the twenty-first century.”
Matana Roberts: i call america is organized by Jay Sanders, Curator and Curator of Performance, and Greta Hartenstein, Curatorial Assistant.
Visitors are welcome to enter the theater during Museum hours. Please note: On Saturday, August 8, the galleries close at 6 pm for Member Night; members are welcome after 6 pm.
Major support for the Whitney’s Performance Program is provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Generous support is also provided by the Performance Committee of the Whitney Museum of American Art.
A dynamic saxophonist, composer, improviser, and mixed media sound conceptualist, Roberts's acclaimed artistic practice aims to expose the mystical roots and the intuitive spirit-raising traditions of American creative expression in her music and art. Her innovative work has forged new conceptual approaches to considering narrativity, history, and political expression within improvisatory structures. In a review of her most recent album, COIN COIN Chapter Three: river run thee, critic Grayson Haver Currin states: "it’s now clear that Roberts isn’t just a storyteller, musician, ethnographer, historian, bandleader, arranger, improviser, or activist. She plays all of those roles, yes; collectively, they power one of the most provocative ongoing bodies of work by any American musician."
—Pitchfork, February 5, 2015