The Big Dig: Joe McPhee & Cauleen Smith

July 24, 2020

Joe McPhee in 1970, during the Nation Time recordings.

Press Release

To view The Big Dig: Joe McPhee & Cauleen Smith, click this link.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Joe McPhee's landmark record Nation Time, McPhee and artist Cauleen Smith come together in a new edition of The Big Dig for an in-depth conversation about the enduring power of that music, the impetus behind it, commonalities that link their outlook and practice, and an optimism specific to today's Black Lives Matter movement. An unimaginably spry octogenarian, McPhee has been an independent spirit in free music since the late 1960s, inspiring and collaborating with creative musicians worldwide while remaining steadfastly based in Poughkeepsie, New York. Smith's films, installations, drawings, and performance processions are precisely attuned to this world, the other worldly, and (im)possible worlds, imagining untapped potential by paying homage to antecedents and ancestors and boosting, extending, and transforming their work through her own. Joyous souls, Smith and McPhee have much in common, artistically, and indeed they had collaborated remotely on several occasions, but this was their first direct encounter. Accompanied by rare historical photographs, audio clips, film segments, and a Cauleen Smith manifesto, this Big Dig digs deep into the heart of these two intensely intuitive artist-intellects.

Born of nerdy fascination, each edition of The Big Dig descends into the rabbit-hole of a tight curatorial concept, excavating a body of work, a thematic idea or a particular medium, a new development or a historical moment. Exclusive images, interviews and essays provide works the kind of rich sense of context that ethnographers refer to as "thick description."

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