Holley will perform live, accompanied by instrumental duo Nelson Patton and multi-instrumentalist Shahzad Ismaily, followed by a discussion with his musical collaborator Lee Bains, improvising and exploring ideas of protest music, particularly in the context of the US South and the abolitionist movement.
Saturday, Nov. 18: 8pm
Over the last forty years, artist and musician Lonnie Holley has used found objects and discarded materials to create a prolific body of work comprising assemblage, sculpture, painting, performance, photography, film, and music, that mirrors and mines the complex trajectory of his life, beginning with his birth in Birmingham, Alabama, in the pre-Civil rights era South. Improvisational in his process, Holley collages an array of diverse objects and ideas together, creating new meaning from the familiar via radical juxtaposition, often taking moments from history as a lens with which to consider the present day and imagine possible futures.
Holley’s earliest memories are of making things, though he wouldn’t understand those things to be art until 1979. He purchased his first keyboard at a Goodwill store in the early 1980s and began recording a series of songs on a karaoke machine, a practice that continued in solitude for decades. His first album, Just Before Music, was released in 2012 when Holley was 62 years old. He has since produced 5 more critically acclaimed albums, including 2023’s Oh Me, Oh My. Holley’s lyrics often explore the reality of life as a Black person in America, incorporating seminal moments from history—often with humorous or poetic observations of the emotional and spiritual fabric of everyday life. Holley will perform live, accompanied by instrumental duo Nelson Patton and Shahzad Ismaily, followed by a discussion with his musical collaborator Lee Bains, improvising and exploring ideas of protest music, particularly in the context of the South and the abolitionist movement.
About Lonnie Holley
Lonnie Holley (born 1950; Birmingham, Alabama) has devoted his life to improvisational creativity since 1979. His art and music, born out of struggle and hardship but perhaps more importantly out of furious curiosity and biological necessity, has manifested itself in drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, performance, music, and filmmaking. His work is in collections of major museums throughout the world, including The Museums of Fine Arts, San Francisco; The Metropolitan Museum of Art; The Philadelphia Museum of Art; The Smithsonian American Art Museum; The National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; on permanent display in the United Nations; and in the White House Rose Garden. Holley has released five critically acclaimed albums––Just Before Music, 2012; Keeping a Record of It, 2013; MITH, 2018; National Freedom, 2020; Broken Mirror: A Selfie Reflection with Matthew E. White, 2021; and most recently Oh Me Oh My, produced by Jacknife Lee, which includes collaborations with Bon Iver, Michael Stipe (REM), Moor Mother, Sharon Van Etten, and Rokia Koné. His directorial debut, the short narrative film I Snuck Off the Slave Ship, premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, and in 2022, Holley was named a USA Artist Fellow. His visual art is represented by Blum & Poe Gallery (Los Angeles) and Edel Assanti Gallery (London).
Protest and Performance: A Way of Life is supported by the Ford Foundation and as part of the Dutch Culture USA program by the Consulate General of the Netherlands in New York.
Senior Program Advisor and Curator at Large: Defne Ayas
Senior Curator: Kathy Noble
Hartwig Art Foundation Curatorial Fellow: Sakhi Gcina
Performa Biennial 2023 Baltic Fellow: Tina Petersone