A multimedia portrait of four famed utopian sites celebrating a Black, spiritual America.
Through films, objects, and installation, Chicago-based filmmaker Cauleen Smith (born 1967) offers an emotional axis by which to navigate four distinct universes: Alice Coltrane and her Sai Anantam ashram; a 1966 photo shoot by Bill Ray at Simon Rodia's Watts Towers in Los Angeles; Noah Purifoy and his desert assemblages in Joshua Tree; and black spiritualist Rebecca Cox Jackson and her Shaker community in 19th-century Philadelphia.
These locations, while not technically utopian societies, embody sites of historical speculation and radical generosity between artist and community. In reimagining a future through this mix, Smith casts a world that is black, feminist, spiritual and unabashedly alive.
This volume, wrapped in a frosted and foil-stamped dust jacket, contains full-color photographs of the multi-room installation and provides further insight into Smith's creative process and myriad influences through two interviews and a manifesto written by the artist.
This book accompanies the exhibition Give It Or Leave It at LACMA.