Allora & Calzadilla: A Man Screaming Is Not a Dancing Bear

  • Jun 18, 2011 – Sep 18, 2011
  • The Leah Louise B. Tannenbaum Gallery
Allora & Calzadilla, "A Man Screaming Is Not a Dancing Bear", 2008, still
from Super 16mm film transferred to HD video. Courtesy of Gladstone
Gallery, New York.

Did you know?

The title, A Man Screaming is Not a Dancing Bear, is derived from the 1939 poem, Cahier d'un retour au pays natal (Notebook of a Return to the Native Land), by Martinique-born Aimé Césaire. The English translation of the verse cited reads: “And above all, my body as well as my soul, beware of assuming the sterile attitude of a spectator, for life is not a spectacle, a sea of miseries is not a proscenium, a man screaming is not a dancing bear…”

Marking the sixth year anniversary of the devastation that swept through New Orleans, the Weatherspoon presents a video installation, A Man Screaming Is Not a Dancing Bear (2008) by Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla. The artistic duo creates metaphors for political and social issues through alternative interpretations of cultural materials, particularly music and musical instruments. A Man Screaming Is Not a Dancing Bear integrates film footage shot by the artists in New Orleans and the Mississippi delta, where hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc in 2005, with the rhythmic drumming of jazz.
The video oscillates between tracking shots of a lush, green, slowly moving tributary and the interior of an abandoned house that was severely damaged by the storm. The tension between the nature’s beauty and the evidence of its ability to inflict damage is heightened by the abrupt interruptions of someone drumming on the Venetian blinds of the house. The inconsistent, yet insistent, sound creates a feeling of urgency and causes light to flicker inside the ruined house. A poetic portrait and homage to the people of New Orleans, A Man Screaming Is Not a Dancing Bear makes the ongoing relevance of the catastrophe, and its implications for global climate change, racism, and economic disparity, strongly felt.
Jennifer Allora (b. 1974, Philadelphia) and Guillermo Calzadilla (b. 1971, Havana, Cuba) have been collaborating since 1995. Allora received a BA from the University of Richmond in Virginia and an MS from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Calzadilla received a BFA from Escuela de Artes Plásticas, San Juan, Puerto Rico and an MFA from Bard College. Based in San Juan, Puerto Rico, the pair has had solo exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (2010); the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2008); and the San Francisco Art Institute (2007), among many other institutions. Concurrent to their exhibition at the Weatherspoon, their work is featured in the United States Pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennale. The artists are represented by Gladstone Gallery, New York.
The exhibition is organized by Xandra Eden, Curator of Exhibitions.

Related programs:

Curator's Talk • Thu Aug 25 @ 5:30pm

Film: The Big Uneasy • Thu Sept 8 @ 6:30pm

We have six galleries located on the first and second levels of the museum, view our gallery map.