The ninth annual ReVIEWING Black Mountain College conference in Asheville, NC, celebrates and bolsters the undying relevance of the spirit of the legendary artistic hub, a forerunner in progressive interdisciplinary education. Black Mountain College’s legacy is wrought from the union of influential American artists and European refugees, who came together and developed new artistic practices and an innovative culture of cross-disciplinary collaboration that came to define the American century.
The progressive educational institution, founded by John A. Rice with an emphasis on the indispensability of fine arts practice within liberal arts study, housed individuals from Bauhaus artists Josef and Anni Albers, who arrived in 1933 after fleeing Nazi Germany in the aftermath of the closure of Bauhaus, to Willem and Elaine de Kooning, to John Cage, to then-students Susan Weil, Robert Rauschenberg, and Cy Twombly. It was a place where artists and thinkers could impart the lessons of their pioneering creativity and era-defining intellectual contributions to the next generation—and where everyone contributed democratically to various facets of life on the College’s verdant grounds, from educating to farming to building.
ReVIEWING Black Mountain College demonstrates how the study of BMC’s model can be used to further deepen art historical discourse, artistic theory, and praxis in the 21st century. Over 60 artists and scholars will speak at the conference, addressing topics that include the artistic practices of the Albers and other BMC artists such as Ruth Asawa, Ray Johnson, Merce Cunningham, and John Cage, as well as the poetics of Charles Olson, Robert Creeley, Hilda Morley, and John Weiners. The conference will feature two key note addresses: one by conceptual artist Mel Chin, on Friday, Sept. 29, and another, about the composition and performance of Black Mountain Songs, in the form of a panel discussion with members of the creative team and others, on Saturday, Sept. 30.
In conjunction with the conference, Black Mountain College Museum is launching two new programs. The BMCM+AC Performance Initiative offers residencies, workshops and performances of world-class interdisciplinary works that bring new dimensions to the Black Mountain College Museum’s dynamic continuation of the College’s legacy. The Performance Initiative debuts with the Southeast Premiere of the acclaimed Black Mountain Songs (Sept. 29 & 30), a musical work from the Brooklyn Youth Chorus and BAM—curated by The National’s Bryce Dessner and Arcade Fire’s Richard Reed Parry—that rekindles the College’s utopian spirit. The second program is Active Archive, which marks the first time BMCM is commissioning new work through an artist residency. For the first year of the program, interdisciplinary artist Martha McDonald will bring the archive and ideas of BMC alive. From Sept. 29-Dec. 30, her archival work will manifest in the curation of an exhibition of art displaying the importance of color, process, and experimentation at BMC; a 96-page catalogue; and community programs, including a performance that will activate an installation of objects and costumes drawn from Xanti Schawinsky’s 1936 experimental theater piece, Spectodrama, a conference presentation, and a gallery walk-through/talk.
Ticketing and Locations
The Black Mountain Songs performances will take place at the Diana Wortham Theatre in downtown Asheville. Tickets can be purchased through the DWT box office for $20 ($12 for those aged 18 and under). Advance tickets available at reviewing.brownpapertickets.com for the Full Conference ($75 for Full Non-Members | $40 Full BMCM+AC / OLLI Members and students + ID // $50 Daily Non-Member | $20 Daily BMCM+AC / OLLI Members + students w/ ID), Keynote Address by Mel Chin ($25 Non-Members | $10 BMCM+AC/OLLI Members + students w/ID), BMC Lake Eden Campus Tour ($15) and Black Mountain Songs ($10 Full Conference Attendees, EndsSeptember 28 – 5pm). Most of the events comprising ReVIEWING Black Mountain College 9 will take place on the UNC Asheville campus at the Reuter Center.