August 18, 2017

Rashaad Newsome: King of Arms, Shade Composition Coming to Detroit

We are so excited to welcome Rashaad Newsome, headlining artist of Dlectricity 2017!

Newsome is committed to engaging with the city of Detroit through a summer residency leading up to the festival as he prepares three pieces for Dlectricity 2017.

Newsome’s practice brings together video, music, collage, and performance. He is known in the art world for reclaiming the vogue scene in his work—the artful 1970s underground queer ballroom dance scene, brought into the mainstream by Madonna in the 1990s that Newsome aims to take back for the queer black community.

For the production of his vogue-themed video work, Newsome makes a point of hiring actual vogue performers as a way to give the community visibility in the art world. Newsome told the New York Times Style Magazine, “Just by putting these bodies within an institutional art-world context is already a major statement, because I didn’t see work like or about this ever in a museum or gallery until I started making it.” Check out the rest of his interview here.

Newsome was born in New Orleans and these roots inform much of his work, particularly the staging of his “King of Arms” New-Orleans-style procession on Friday, September 22, at 7:00 p.m., circling the Detroit Institute of Arts to kick off Dlectricity 2017.

Newsome has been collaborating with the Cass Tech High School Marching Band and the Gabriel Brass Band to prepare them to lead the parade. “King of Arms” will also feature the Miami Bike Life motorcycle crew; members of the Detroit Vogue scene; Newsome’s NYC troop the Vogue Knights; Philadelphia LGBTQ rapper Kevin JZ Prodigy; the Detroit East Side Riders; and a “King of Arms” float, a customized Ford F150 truck wrapped in the artist’s imagery.

Newsome will also direct one of his critically-acclaimed “Shade Composition” performances at 8:00 p.m. Saturday, September 23 at the Detroit Film Theater inside the DIA.

“Shade Composition” will be performed by Newsome’s ensemble of locally cast self-identifying black female performers. Newsome acts as conductor and vocal choreographer, leading the performers through a series of vocals and gestures that are synthesized to form improvisatory orchestral music. Costumes for the performance will be designed by Rick Owens.

Newsome’s third piece will be a new original video work commissioned specifically for Dlectricity to be shown in the Great Hall at the DIA throughout the festival.

Newsome received the 2017 Rush Arts Gold Rush Award and is part of the 2017 NY Live Arts Live Feed residency program. He has exhibited and performed at the Studio Museum in Harlem, The National Museum of African American History and Culture in DC, The Whitney Museum in NYC, The Brooklyn Museum, MoMAPS1 in NYC, as well as numerous other locations nationally and internationally.

Currently, Newsome has work at MOCA Jacksonville, FL as part of the “Synthesize: Art + Music” exhibition, on view now through September 24.

Newsome also has a solo show at MMoCA in Madison, WI, showcasing both early and recent video work documenting vogue culture, on view now through December 3.

Thank you so much to Hyphen, an artist management firm founded by Andrea Glimcher, for proposing Rashaad Newsome as the 2017 Dlectricity artist-in-residence.

Thank you so much to the Knight Foundation for their generous support of this residency, and to the Detroit Institute of Arts for hosting all three of Newsome’s projects.

Check out a studio visit and interview with Newsome from 2016 here.

Check out an interview with Saint Heron, a collective album produced by Solange Knowles (Newsome designed the cover art) here.