Friday, April 23, 2010

Mural Workshop With Lady Pink

Above: Whaley, Pink, and Anthony.

As the exhibition activities draw to a close, it winds down with big events. As a part of Lady Pink's visit, she did a mural workshop with UI studio arts students and co-curator Deborah Whaley. The finished mural will be exhibited in our Black Box exhibition space. David Scrivner of The Daily Iowa created a multimedia video of the painting of the mural on day 2 when it was 1/2 complete (we worked on the mural for 3 days for 8 hours each day).

View here

Friday, March 19, 2010

UIMA PE Panel on Fear of a Black Planet

Above: Introducing PE Panel, April 1, 2010

The PE Panel kicked off a major moment in our exhibition. Nearly 700 people attended the panel that featured Harry Allen, Hank and Keith Shockley, and Chuck D.

For a video montage of the event, click here.

Also, we created a music playlist for the exhibition. Click on the music player to access playlist:

Saturday, February 20, 2010

List of Exhibition Events

--Two Turntables and Microphone: Hip-hop Contexts Featuring Harry Allen’s Part of the Permanent Record: Photos from the Previous Century Exhibition, curators Deborah Whaley & Kembrew McLeod: March 27-June 27 IMU, Black Box Theatre(UIMA can arrange class field trips with a tour guide:

--Museum Doner Reception, IMU Main Lounge, 7-9pm, March 25

--7pm, Thursday April 1, Englert Theater: Public Enemy panel celebrating the 20th anniversary of the hip-hop group’s groundbreaking album, Fear of a Black Planet—featuring Public Enemy frontman Chuck D, Hip-Hop Activist & Media Assassin Harry Allen, and PE co-founders Hank Shocklee and Keith Shocklee (members of the group’s original production unit, the Bomb Squad). Moderated by Kembrew McLeod. FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.

--9PM, Thursday April 1, Yacht Club Music Acts: The Bomb Squad, The Hood Internet, Database, School of Flyentology. Part of the Mission Creek Festival.

--Lady Pink Lecture April 21, 7:30p - 9pm, Van Allen hall, Lecture Room 2. FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.

--Lady Pink Mural workshop with Deborah Whaley and Studio Arts Students, April 20, 22, 9am-4pm; April 21, 9am-3pm, Studio Arts Building

--Gallery Talk: Kembrew McLeod and Deborah Whaley, April 29, 7:30-9:00 pm. FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.

For more information: and

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

New! Virtual Museum of Approximate Layout

Thanks to everyone who has posted to and read the blog, and helped us prepare for the exhibition Two Turntables and a Microphone: Hip-Hop Contexts featuring Harry Allen's Part of the Permanent Record: Photos from the Previous Century

Below I include a virtual draft of how we are envisioning the layout of the exhibition. A real slideshow will be added after the show is set up.

view all pictures of this slideshow

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Warm up this winter with an Illmatic Book

From Amazon:
The best and brightest writers of the hip-hop generation reflect upon the era's landmark album: Nas's Illmatic.

From the moment then nineteen-year-old Nasir "Nas" Jones began recording tracks for his debut album the hip-hop world was forever changed. Released in 1994, Illmatic, was hailed as a masterpiece and is one of the most influentialalbums in hip-hop history. In Born to Use Mics, Michael Eric Dyson and Sohail Daulatzai have brought together the brightest minds to reflect upon and engage one of the most incisive sets of songs ever laid down on wax.

Contributors include:
Adilifu Nama * Guthrie P. Ramsey, Jr. * James Peterson * Marc Lamont Hill * Michael Eric Dyson * Mark Anthony Neal * Kyra Gaunt * Eddie S. Glaude, Jr. * Imani Perry * and more

Thursday, April 23, 2009

A Eulogy for the Boombox

Frannie Kelley's excellent NPR article on the Boombox:
click here

Happy reading...

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Just a heads up...

I just received Russell Myrie's new book Don't Rhyme for the Sake of Riddlin': The Authorized Story Of Public Enemy (Hardcover). Hopefully I can start reading it soon.

Also, GZA of the legendary Wu-Tang Clan will be in Iowa City on April 1st (no joke).
For more information click here


Friday, January 30, 2009

Identities and Technoculture Conference Partners with Exhibition Activities

We will have a workshop on the exhibition at the conference Technoculture and American Identities, which is being sponsored by the Center for Ethnic Studies (CESA) and the Mid America American Studies Association (MAASA). It is Saturday at 11 am (April 4). There will also be a screening of the Kembrew McLeod and Ben Franzen documentary on sampling technology at 8pm on Friday evening (April 3) at the conference with a Q & A to follow.

For more details, visit the CESA website

Publications of Curators

Curators of Two Turntables and a Microphone see the show as an extension of their commitments to the articulation of artistic production, intellectual, and social movements. Please look for our upcoming curator statement that paces through how the show came to fruition and our hopes for the impact of the show on spectators. For now, please find below articles by curators Kembrew McLeod and Deborah Whaley on the topic of hip-hop:

1. McLeod, "Authenticity Within Hip-Hop and Other Cultures Threatened with Assimilation"
2. Whaley, “Black Expressive Art, Resistant Cultural Politics, and the (Re)Performance of Patriotism
3. Whaley, "Black Bodies/Yellow Masks: The Orientalist Aesthetic in Hip-hop and Black Visual Culture"

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Reflections on Two Turntables and a Microphone

Above Paintings: Deborah Elizabeth Whaley, "
Lauryn Hill," 2005 (Oil on Canvas, 11 X 14); "Funkamentals," 2005 (Oil on Canvas, 11 X 14).

Kembrew and I are in the process of constructing our joint and individual curator statements. In an effort to organize my thoughts and how I am thus far thinking through aspects of the show, I will use this space to reflect upon the origins, meanings, and final execution of this collective artistic endeavor, Two Turn Tables and a Microphone: Hip-hop Contexts Featuring Harry Allen's Part of the Permanent Record.


Two Turntables and Microphone: Hip-hop Contexts Featuring Harry Allen’s Part of the Permanent Record; Photos from the Previous Century, is at its very heart a collective effort, and like the origins of hip-hop, its beginnings are discursive.

In September of 2007, co-curator Kembrew McLeod wrote to Kathleen Edwards, curator of European and American art at the University of Iowa Museum of Art, to garner interest for bringing a photo-exhibition of photographer and journalist Harry Allen's documentation of hip-hop in the early 1980s. As Kembrew relayed at the time, Allen's photos provide a visual archive of "the early, gestating African-American hip-hop scene of New York City." On the same day, I met with Edwards to discuss the possibilities of forming a relationship with the museum and doing an exhibition on the response to 9/11 in hip-hop music, activist groups, Black art, poetry, and comics. The idea was to visualize research I conducted on the topic for the William Monroe Trotter Institute for Black Culture, which included a discussion of Public Enemy's music, Chuck D's post 9/11 reflections, and an articulation between new Black cultural politics and aesthetically innovative hip-hop music. Kembrew McLeod's intellectual and artistic work relates closely to the topic of the show as well. As a public intellectual and documentary filmmaker, he has written and created filmic work on hip-hop, authenticity discourses, sampling, copyright, and technology. McLeod has also organized several conference panels with members of Public Enemy (PE), including Allen and Chuck D, to create a space for an acknowledgment of PE as seminal to hip-hop studies. It was Kathleen Edwards' decision to put the two of us together on the project with the idea in mind that collaboratively we could create a fantastic exhibition that would showcase Allen's work and contextualize the historical moment of the emergence of his work in the public sphere.

Such a venture would necessitate drawing from a wide variety of expressions, including music, memorabilia, and graffiti art. Edwards posed the idea of having a commissioned graffiti mural for the exhibition, while I, along with Kembrew, began to consider ways to create an exhibition that would commemorate the moment without nostalgia or recapitulating narratives of hip-hop that even today serves as the permanent and often limiting narrative of hip-hop's origins. Similar to Allen's photos, we wanted to think through this moment as indebted to, but not confined by, MC's, rappers, and musicians, and to instead think of lesser-discussed representations of hip-hop. It was at that time that it made sense to intervene in the male dominated field, both intellectually and artistically. I posed the idea of showcasing the work of Lady Pink, one of the most important graffiti artists of the 1980s -- the very same moment that Allen documents. Pink continues to create graffiti and fine art, thus, the inclusion of her work helps to chart the transformation of iconic and aesthetic representations of hip-hop over the past three decades. From there, the show continued to grow by the inclusion of material artifacts such as event flyers, album covers, and music. Kembrew was able to obtain permission from T La Rock (an emcee best known for his collaboration with Def Jam Recordings co-founder Rick Rubin and the 1984 single, "It's Yours") to include his collection of hip-hop event flyers. Our album covers constitute a rich mixture of male and female hip-hop artists.

I chose the prefix title for the show because it reflects the organic and technological beginnings of hip-hop. The decision was influenced by the musical arrangement and lyrics to hip-hop artist the Guru's song "Loungin.'" A piece I regularly employ as an example in my Black popular culture classes, because of its blurring of the genres of jazz and what is commonly referred to as old school hip-hop with a New Jack swing, "Loungin'" and its lyrics reflect upon hip-hop as a site of technological and cultural invention. It also situates hip-hop as a form that remains true and is indebted to (but by no means confined by) its early years of one DJ, two turntables, an MC, and a microphone. At the song’s conclusion, the Guru raps that the industry has tried to change hip-hop from its classical roots for commercial reasons, but the musical form must and continues to grow for its own artistic health. He continues, “We’re the type of rappers that when we rock shows, we don’t use DATs (digital audio tapes), because when DATs came out there were no more turntables. If the DJ’s up there, he’s not really doing nothin.’ He’s just scratchin’ over the DAT. And basically, what we do is play some instrumental tracks to everything we do, because when rap started what they did was, which was so ingenious was, to create a whole form of urban style music from just two turntables, two records, and a microphone.”

Guru’s words assert that one can pay tribute to technological and musical forms as they simultaneously expand those forms. Similar to "Loungin,'" it is the aesthetic complexity, artistic innovation, and contextualized narrative that Two Turntables and a Microphone aims to create for spectators, scholars, and hip-hop enthusiasts. As is the case with all art exhibitions, this project has taken a committed, caring, and resourceful "village" to enable the execution of the curators' joint vision. We welcome and look forward to how this visual narrative translates for its intended academic and popular audiences when it opens in March 2010.

T La Rock Flyers for Exhibition

Flyers from hip-hop events and shows will adorn the outside parameter and (as we anticipate now) one wall of the exhibition space. We were lucky that T La Rock generously allowed us to use replications of his personal collection of hip-hop event flyers. T La Rock, is an emcee best known for his collaboration with Def Jam Recordings co-founder Rick Rubin and the 1984 single, "It's Yours." Special thanks to Cinda Nofziger, the RA for the Center for Ethnic Studies and the Arts at University of Iowa, for scanning the hip-hop flyers.

See the slideshow below:

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Harry Allen Lecture Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Days after the opening of our exhibition, our feature artist, Harry Allen, will do a talk at the University of Iowa on 1 April 2009. The UI Lecture Committee is sponsoring the talk by the multi-talent author, artist, and hip-hop activist.

Harry Allen, is a member of the influential hip-hop group Public Enemy. Known as the group’s “Media Assassin,” Allen has been a leading journalist for over two decades who has published in Vibe, The Source, Village Voice, and has been quoted on CNN, NPR, MTV, VHI, and in the Wall Street Journal as an expert in the fields of popular music and hip-hop. His photography, created during the early days of the hip-hop movement, has received scant attention until his recent decision to exhibit his work in a 2007 New York gallery show titled Part of the Permanent Record: Photos from the Previous Century by Harry Allen. We are excited and honored that Allen is sharing with the UI community his artistic work and intellectual work on hip-hop.

Details of talk:
Date: 1 April 2009
Place: University of Iowa Memorial Union, Second Floor Ballroom
Time: 7:30 PM

Album Covers for Exhibition

Unique to our exhibition is the inclusion of flyers and album covers. Please look for a slide show of the flyers coming soon, but for now I include some of the album covers that we will showcase. I hope this allows everyone to have a strong visual idea of our show in order to write your comments for our roundtable and any publicity items associated with the show.To the other panelists for the CESA workshop: if you have additional album covers, especially ones of female hip-hop artists in the 1980s, please let us know, as we may be able to include those as well.

Harry Allen, Part of the Permanent Record

The following is a brief example of the Harry Allen images for the exhibition. I upload them and the Pink video so that all contributors to our panel and the museum staff may have a visual depiction of the show in one central space. This also helps alleviate the problem of large file management.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tricia Rose's New Book on Hip-hop!

Tricia Rose's new book on hip-hop is out, which I plan to purchase next week. I think it might be good, since she is at this point considered iconic in hip-hop studies, for everyone involved in the exhibition panel to read her book and perhaps reference it at the panel. We might also begin discussing here a bibliography or share our media examples for the roundtable. I'll post again on this topic once I've read Rose's book, but for now, we'll keep using this space for updates about the exhibition. For example, soon I will post the curator statement for the show.


Sunday, January 25, 2009

Spring 2010: Two Turntables and a Microphone/Lady Pink Graffiti Slideshow

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

In Spring 2010 the University of Iowa Museum of Art will run the exhibition Two Turntables and a Microphone: Hiphop Contexts Featuring Harry Allen's Part of the Permanent Record (co curated by Deborah Whaley and Kembrew McLeod). The exhibition will feature stunning images of the early days of hip-hop by the photographer and journalist Harry Allen. It will also feature artifacts that situate the history of hip-hop, including event posters, music, and a slide show of graffiti artist Lady Pink's work. The exhibition opens in late March and will take place at the UI Black Box Theater. This blog will feature updates and press information about the exhibition as well as written contributions by those involved with the exhibition.

As a quick teaser of what to expect, here is a slide show I put together of images of Lady Pink's work. She will come to UI in April 2010, and I, along with Studio Arts students, will create a mural with her as the guiding artistic force. In the slideshow below, I included an interview with her that I excerpted from a documentary on youtube (if you have suggestions for this video please let me know):

Image above: Artist Lady Pink