Formed in 2016 as the collaborative platform of composer Justin Hicks and artist Steffani Jemison, Mikrokosmos mines the history of Black music. This ongoing project has manifested in many forms: workshop, study session, concert, listening session, book, prompt, score. “Another time, this time, one time,” the first Mikrokosmos LP, uses Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson's “We Almost Lost Detroit” (1977) as the raw material for R&B songwriting.
Like a game in which new words are formed from existing letters, these live compositions and re-compositions take the form of musical studies, samples, and improvisations. Inspired by Scott-Heron's own ambitious songbook, Jemison and Hicks reflect upon a wide range of subjects, including Scott-Heron's biography, police violence in the United States, and the nuclear catastrophe that threatened the city of Detroit in 1966.
“Mikrokosmos, like all black music, is a form of speculation. It is ‘study without end’ (Moten and Harney, 2015); blackness is its subject. Anti-languages and alternative literacies have persisted in the African American community since slavery, and Mikrokosmos embraces the spirit of these radical approaches to language and learning. With our collaborators, we derive new proposals for understanding and teaching pitch and rhythm from the black vernacular songbook. Mikrokosmos is influenced by diverse music pedagogical programs and contexts, including the Orff Schulwerk, the Kodaly method, Béla Bartok's Mikrokosmos piano learning exercises, and the musical learning methodologies of the black American church, among others. The current research uses the melodic and rhythmic conventions of songwriter Gil Scott-Heron as tools for articulating revolutionary melancholy.”
Steffani Jemison & Justin Hicks
Mikrokosmos is influenced by diverse music pedagogical programs and contexts, including the Orff Schulwerk, the Kodaly method, Béla Bartok's Mikrokosmos piano learning exercises, and the musical learning methodologies of the black American church, among others. The current research uses the melodic and rhythmic conventions of songwriter Gil Scott-Heron as tools for articulating revolutionary melancholy.
Limited release of 500 in heavy weight gatefold jacket.
Includes liner notes and fold out poster.
Digital download coupon included.
Steffani Jemison (born 1981 in Berkeley, California, lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.) uses time-based, photographic and discursive platforms to explore “progress” and its alternatives. Building on a practice that places African American history and culture at the intersection of Conceptual Art, Jemison's work considers how inherited visual strategies both limit and expand our access to history more broadly.
She holds an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2009) and a BA in Comparative Literature from Columbia University (2003). She has participated in artist residencies at Smack Mellon, Brooklyn; the International Studio and Curatorial Program, Brooklyn; Project Row Houses, Houston; and the Core Program at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. In 2015, she presented her new multipart commission Promise Machine at the Museum of Modern Art.
Jemison's work has been exhibited nationally and internationally at venues including the Brooklyn Museum; the Drawing Center; LAXART; the New Museum; the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Art; the Studio Museum in Harlem; Laurel Gitlen; and Team Gallery.
Justin Hicks (born in Cincinnati, OH, and is based in the Bronx, NY) is a multidisciplinary artist, collaborator, and performer who uses music and sound to investigate themes of identity, labor, American dream aesthetics, and instinctual value systems.
His work has been featured at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Performance Space New York, The Public Theater, JACK, National Black Theatre, MoMA, Dixon Place, festival Steirischer Herbst (Graz, Austria), Western Front Society (Vancouver, BC), MASS MoCA, The Whitney Museum of American Art, Nottingham Contemporary (Nottingham, UK), The Highline, The Institute for Contemporary Art (Philadelphia), and The John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts among others.
Hicks has collaborated with notable visual artists, musicians, and theater makers including Abigail DeVille, Charlotte Brathwaite, Kaneza Schaal, Meshell Ndegeocello, Cauleen Smith, Helga Davis, Chris Myers, and Ayesha Jordan.
Hicks was the Drama Desk nominated composer for Mlima's Tale by Lynn Nottage (The Public Theater 2018 dir. Jo Bonney).
His practice with artist Steffani Jemison, Mikrokosmos, has deployed commissioned performances and exhibitions internationally. He was a member of Kara Walker's 6-8 Months Space and holds a culinary diploma from ICE in New York City.