Blum & Poe is pleased to present Wizard of the Upper Amazon
, a new film by Los Angeles-based artist and filmmaker Kahlil Joseph. The two-channel, black and white film is installed in the very room and mise en scène in which it was originally shot, its narrative inspired by the memory of a formative moment in the life of friend and collaborator Henry Taylor.
Artifact of memory. Recount, encounters...
In 1979, Henry Taylor, barely twenty years old, found himself backstage of the Santa Barbara County Bowl after a Bob Marley concert. Whether happenstance or divine intervention, Henry stumbled into room that was lined with Rastafarians from Kingston, Jamaica, in various states of meditation, smoking, and vibing, with a sole white woman rolling joints in the corner. The scene hovered somewhere between sacred and surreal. Among the men, sitting with his eyes closed, was Bob Marley himself. Henry sat down next to Marley and waited some twenty minutes for him to open his eyes, all the while, searching for what he might have the courage to say to him. Henry spoke to Marley for what felt like an hour and the experience of doing so has stayed with him, decades later. Marley, global music icon, a symbol of peace and spirituality in Jamaica and beyond, died two years after this encounter.
WOTUA is part recreation, part reimagining, part new encounter; the experience of memory transfers to the viewer. Weed stems, rolling papers, stains, ash, a soccer ball, pepper the room. Physical remnants of what was
lend atmosphere to visual memory, projected in two adjacent channels on the walls. Black and white scenes of Rastas backstage oscillate between recorded memory and eerily mystical flashes. A bass-heavy original score surrounds the viewer -- Dub, Rocksteady, Atmospheric drone, a Kingstonian voice -- shifts unpredictably throughout space. Bob Marley echoes through a younger Marley's music woven into the soundscape. With no "start" or "end," the viewer is merely suspended in a visual and sonic moment -- fragments of the capricious nature of memory.
Press release courtesy Blum & Poe.