New York artist Rashaad Newsome creates multi-media works that are part video, part performance art and part music production. “Swag” as the name suggests is a video/film work incorporating elements of hip-hop music and culture, juxtaposing these references against those from heraldry and other European sources. Newsome’s work was highlighted at the Powerhouse in the South Main Arts District of Memphis during the Live From Memphis Video Showcase, March 1, 2012
MVS 2012: RASHAAD NEWSOME AT THE POWER HOUSE For most critics, filmmakers, journalists, scholars, and audiences, music videos are a disposable, ignored, and—when they are mentioned at all—maligned pursuit.
One of the goals of the Live From Memphis Music Video Showcase is to recognize and highlight the artistry in the humble music video. In addition to being the largest one yet, this years’ edition will expand beyond the screen to explore the connection between music and the moving image.
Besides the main music video programs and the panels, the 2012 Music Video Showcase has appropriated the Power House, a former industrial building and late, lamented art gallery, to present a group of works by artists who have been touched by music.
Rashaad Newsome is a New York artist whose work has spanned videos, performances, and, most recently, an acclaimed series of collages based on imagery from hip hop. Newsome, whose work will be brought to Memphis by Crosstown Arts as part of the Our Vibe, Our City exhibit, has worked in music videos before, but Swag is his most ambitious and acclaimed opus. The artist has explored the materialism and search for status in contemporary hip hop with a series of collages that combine familiar hip hop images such as diamonds, champagne, and expensive cars with traditional European heraldry. The series of videos created in collaboration with the musicians for Swag continue these themes, but go far beyond in scope. Combining “highbrow” and “lowbrow” culture freely and without regard to their traditional contexts in a complex, baroque style, the varied video series reflects the groundbreaking work of earlier video artists such as Nam Jun Paik and Laurie Anderson, the latter of whom is a Newsome collaborator.
This is the first time Newsome’s work has been exhibited in Memphis, and the first of a series of visiting artists presented by Crosstown Arts. Newsome will be honored with an opening reception on Thursday, March 1 at 5 PM, and will present an artist lecture at 6 PM at the Power House, 45 G.E. Patterson. Swag will be on display throughout the Music Video Showcase weekend.