The 2018 Cornell Council for the Arts (CCA) Biennial, with 18 installations and performances premiering across campus, launches with a walking tour with the artists Friday, Sept. 28, and a conference Saturday, Sept. 29, on the Biennial theme, “Duration: Passage, Persistence, Survival.” Events are open to the public.
The walking tour starts Friday at 2 p.m. from the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art lobby and lasts about two hours. As part of his first residency on campus, A.D. White Professor-at-Large Xu Bing gives a public lecture Friday at 5:15 p.m. in the museum’s Wing Lecture Room to discuss “The Character of Characters.” Installed at the museum, the five-channel video dwells on the history of Chinese drawing and technology through the passage of time and environments.
The Saturday conference begins at 10:15 a.m. in Milstein Auditorium and features three artist panels (by topics: Sounding Duration; Ecological Duration; Social Survival and Persistence) with faculty, student and guest contributors, and a 3 p.m. plenary lecture by featured artist Carrie Mae Weems, whose installation “Heave” is housed in two pavilions on the Arts Quad.
Linked to Weems’ 2017 Park Avenue Armory project “A Shape of Things,” “Heave” combines multimedia elements and architectural design to probe the devastating effects of violence.
On display Friday and Saturday evening in the clock faces on McGraw Tower, “ATGC,” a project by graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, features colored LED lights representing the four nucleotides in human DNA, programmed to depict the variations in genome sequences of 32 diverse human populations.
Guest artists on campus will include fiber artist Ruby Chishti, designer in residence this fall in the Department of Fiber Science & Apparel Design; and environmental artist Hans Baumann, who collaborated with Karen Pinkus, professor of Romance studies and comparative literature, on “Crystalline Basement” on the Engineering Quad (with accompanying video), addressing geologic time, distance and geothermal energy.
Haitian music, fall concerts
The Department of Music presents a Haitian dance music lecture and workshop, free and open to the public Sept. 28 at 4:30 p.m. in B21 Lincoln Hall. The RAM Haitian Dance Band of Port-au-Prince will introduce rhythm and dance styles, and Elena Guzman, doctoral student of anthropology, will present on her fieldwork with a Rara band in Anse-a-Pitres, Haiti.
Also: The Cornell Wind Symphony, Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Orchestra perform their first concerts of the fall semester Sept. 29-30, 3 p.m. both days in Bailey Hall. The one-hour Wind Symphony program Sept. 29 takes the audience on a trip through 400 years of music for wind ensemble, with works by Giovanni Gabrieli, Gaetano Donizetti, Richard Wagner, Dmitri Kabalevsky and Donald Grantham.
The symphony orchestra and chamber orchestra, led this year by visiting artist Henry Hao-An Cheng, will feature the Cornell Chamber Singers on works by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Caroline Shaw in their concert Sept. 30. The program also includes Respighi’s “Ancient Airs and Dances” Suite No. 3, Xian Xinghai’s “Yellow River” piano concerto with soloist Byron Wei-Xin Zhou, and selections from Elgar’s “Enigma Variations.”
Apples to apples: Cider Week
Researchers and educators lead free walking tours of Cornell’s high-density hard cider research orchard, Sept. 30 at 1 and 3 p.m. The Cornell Orchards Store at 709 Dryden Road also hosts a meet-the-maker cider market from noon to 4 p.m.
Also on campus as part of Finger Lakes Cider Week, Sept. 28-Oct. 8: “A Celebration of Finger Lakes Cider,” Oct. 2, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Mann Library. Professor of horticulture Greg Peck (@DoctorApples) and his graduate students will present some of Cornell’s efforts in support of the growing New York state cider industry.
Featuring the Mann Library exhibition “Apples to Cider: An Old Industry Takes New Root,” with rare books showing some of the heritage apple varieties making this historic craft industry’s rebirth possible, the event also includes information on new cider-related courses at Cornell, apple tasting and button making.
Political satire on screen
Both films reflect the late 1960s counterculture and political underground in reaction to mainstream American life, and nothing is sacred. “Brand X” (1970, shown in a digital restoration), with Abbie Hoffman, Sally Kirkland and Warhol superstars Ultra Violet and Taylor Mead, satirizes a variety of television programming formats, from commercials and talk shows to White House press conferences. Likewise, “Dynamite Chicken” (1971) finds the politics, race relations and sexual mores of the day ripe for satire, predating the edgy sketch comedy of “Saturday Night Live.” It features Richard Pryor, John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Andy Warhol, Tuli Kupferberg of the Fugs and The Ace Trucking Company.
The screenings are cosponsored by the Media Studies Initiative, the departments of History and Performing and Media Arts, and the Society for the Humanities.
Also showing: “The Puppet Master: The Films of Jiří Trnka,” Oct. 3-5, a touring series from the Czech National Film Archive that is the first U.S. retrospective of features and short films by the Czech animation master, whose output from 1912-1969 was rivaled only by Walt Disney. Features include “The Emperor’s Nightingale,” Sept. 30; “The Czech Year,” Oct. 3; and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Oct. 4. The series comes to Cornell with the support of the Institute for European Studies.
Inside social media
Associate professor of communication Lee Humphreys gives a free Chats in the Stacks book talk on personal impacts of social media, Sept. 27 at 4:30 p.m. in 160 Mann Library.
From diaries and photo albums to Twitter and Instagram, people have shared mundane details of daily life for centuries. In her new book, “The Qualified Self: Social Media and the Accounting of Everyday Life,” Humphreys explores whether social media use has made us more narcissistic, or if these new technologies have led us to more meaningful ways to express ourselves.
Also: Chinmay Tumbe discusses the migration of business communities and labor in a book talk on “India Moving: A History of Migration,” Oct. 4 at noon in 102 Mann Library, cosponsored by the Tata-Cornell Institute and the Cornell Population Center. Lunch is provided.
A faculty member of the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad and a 2018 Harvard Business School visiting scholar, Tumbe also taught at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences.
Voices of Freedom
Fiction writer and literature scholar Kanchana Ugbabe, who fled Nigeria in 2015 amid escalating violence, says writing is more than a calling – it is “almost a strategy for survival.”
Ugbabe discusses her life as a South Asian expatriate, a woman, a teacher and a writer in exile at Ithaca City of Asylum’s Voices of Freedom 2018 event, Thursday, Oct. 4, at 7 p.m. at Buffalo Street Books, 215 N. Cayuga St., Ithaca. She also will read her story “Blessing in Disguise” and take questions. A reception and book signing will follow.
Ugbabe’s work focuses on home, belonging and the migrant experience, and she explores writing as a coping mechanism for women living in conflict zones or displaced by violence. Her short story collection “Soulmates” was published by Penguin in 2011. A former visiting scholar in the women and gender studies program at Harvard University, Ugbabe was named Fordham University’s first Writer at Risk in Residence in November 2017.
Founded in 2001, Ithaca City of Asylum is an all-volunteer project of the Center for Transformative Action at Cornell. It provides refuge in Ithaca for dissident writers and promotes freedom of expression and human rights.