Active Voice: Art and books

Ulises is a collectively run art bookstore and exhibition space&emdash;modeled after venues such as Printed Matter and Dexter Sinister in New York&emdash;whose quarterly, essayistic presentations constellate works of art, publications, and public programs around a curatorial theme. “Active Voice,” this season’s apt focus, places the politicized, pop-inflected narrations of Hannah Black’s recent videos and Steffani Jemison’s looped sound work Same Time, 2014, into dialogue. In Jemison’s recording, which is softly amplified throughout the room, an a cappella group weaves lush harmonies around the text of Black Panther Party leader Huey Newton’s Vietnam War-era speech at Boston College. The immersive aural pleasure of this work signals Newton’s desire, expressed in his closing line, “to develop a value system that will help us function together in harmony,” despite seemingly insurmountable differences between radical communities. On a monitor with headphones, Black’s video Intensive Care/Hot New Track, 2014, collages spoken fragments of stories of sexual violence, celebrity, and extradition over disembodied floating limbs.

Mark Beasley’s Twelve Books & Seven Records: Re-Voice, 2016, comprises a reading and listening list available to browse onsite, as in a reference library, and as a printed takeaway card. Its references include Judith Butler’s Excitable Speech: A Politics of the Performative (1997) and Max Roach and Abbey Lincoln’s jazz LP We Insist! Max Roach’s Freedom Now Suite (1960). The bookshop’s shelves display a range of on-theme materials, which supplement Beasley’s concise syllabus, including Pascal Gielen’s The Murmuring of the Artistic Multitude: Global Art, Memory and Post-Fordism (2010) and filmmaker and performer Wu Tsang’s monograph Not in My Language (2016). Communal furniture—long, low benches and a wide central table designed by Jody Harrington—invites extended reading, active listening, and conversation, all essential in these troubled times.