I Am Not Your Negro has opened to major critical acclaim.
It features the writings of James Baldwin, and is an exploration of a book on Martin Luther King, Jr., Medgar Evers, and Malcolm X that Baldwin never completed. The film’s website describes it as “a journey into black history that connects the past of the Civil Rights movement to the present of #BlackLivesMatter.”
In 1985, James Baldwin returned to Studs’ studio after a twenty-three year break, but their connection had not waned. Studs starts off the hour by playing an excerpt of their 1961 conversation, which included a Bessie Smith song, and then asks Baldwin what has changed since that day. He responds with very thoughtful observations on race, language and identity.
Closer to home, catch “Merce Cunningham: Common Time” at the MCA.
The Museum of Contemporary Art’s retrospective focuses on Cunningham’s many collaborations with his artistic contemporaries, including John Cage. In 1971, Merce Cunningham and John Cage joined Studs in the studio to talk about their work together. In the featured clip, they talk about chaos and experimentation in art, and what it means to “accept the mess.” Merce Cunningham talks about what this means practically, while John Cage speaks more conceptually about Thoreau, forests, and thunderstorms. This brief conversation makes it easy to see why they were such a synergistic pair.