Eastman is the Matter at Hand
From the late 1960s until his death in 1990 at the age of 49, Julius Eastman, the queer African-American avant-garde composer, pianist, vocalist and conductor, wrote and performed compositions whose ecstatic militant minimalism initiated a black radical aesthetic that revolutionised the East Coast’s new music scene of the 1970s and 1980s. No recordings of Eastman’s compositions were released during his lifetime. In January 1980, Julius Eastman was invited by the Music Department at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois to present his compositions Crazy Nigger (1978), Evil Nigger (1979) and Gay Guerrilla (1979). A number of African-American students and one faculty member objected to the titles of Eastman’s compositions. The titles were redacted from the concert programme. Before the concert on 16 January 1980, Eastman delivered a public statement that responded to these objections. The speeches delivered by two speakers in The Otolith Group’s video, The Third Part is the Third Measure (2017) – on display as the installation at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam during the festival – are based on each performer’s adapted transcription of Eastman’s Northwestern statement. This talk by The Otolith Group – Anjalika Sagar and Kodwo Eshun – who are joined by Annie Fletcher, focuses on the importance of this Afrofuturist artist and expand on ideas in making the film. In May 2019, the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, presents the first large scale solo exhibition of The Otolith Group. The exhibition is curated by Annie Fletcher.
Photo Courtesy of the organisation