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Amber Rose Johnson + Carolyn Lazard: Notes from the Panorama

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Submitted on August 5, 2021 - 2:27pm
Still image of two people lying on grass from Notes from the Panorama
Carolyn Lazard and Amber Rose Johnson, Notes from the Panorama, 2021. Single-channel video. Courtesy the artists.


The Black Embodiments Studio (BES) proudly presents Notes from the Panorama, a new video collaboration between multidisciplinary artist Carolyn Lazard and writer/performer Amber Rose Johnson. The work combines archival images of Black rest and leisure with an accompanying performance score; together they aim to slow time and support embodied awareness during major transitions in the pandemic, which has only intensified the need for rest in Black and Brown communities, in particular.

The first 150 people who sign up will receive a physical copy of the score, along with a link to the video work.

While the video portion of Notes from the Panorama moves through silent footage of playgrounds, picnics, and Black people in repose, the score guides listeners through a series of gestures that deepen their attention to the relationship between self, body, and environment. These haptic modalities emphasize the experience and memory of physical sensation.

“This piece works to provide a multisensory bridge between the rest we need and the repair we desire,” says BES director Kemi Adeyemi. “Lazard and Johnson’s collaboration reflects our mission of building bridges between Black artists and arts writers in order to build sustainable community in eras of isolation.”

Johnson and Lazard’s collaboration is the third creative alliance to receive financial, material, and conceptual support from BES’s Artist + Writer Initiative during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Initiative previously commissioned new work from artist Ilana Harris-Babou and hosted a Zoom conversation between her and writer Jessica Lynne, and it is providing support for an online version of a workshop developed by artist LaJuné McMillian with a corresponding written work by Ashley Stull Meyers. Writing commissioned from all three writers will also appear in the next edition of the annual BES journal, A Year in Black Art, to be published later this summer.

About the Artists

Amber Rose Johnson is a writer and performer from Providence, RI, and based in Philadelphia. Across her interdisciplinary practice, she explores experimental poetics as a critical method for reconfiguring the world as it’s been imagined. Grounded in Black Diasporic critical thinking, her inquiries into the mechanisms of Relation are anchored in close attention to language and embodiment. Johnson is the curator of the conversation and workshop series Mess + Process, and the coordinator of the Black Cultural Studies Collective. She is the co-editor of Colored People Time, a book about the exhibition of the same name at Philadelphia’s Institute of Contemporary Art, and her writing has been featured in BOMB Magazine, Bookforum, and Jacket2. Johnson is a PhD Candidate in English and Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.

Carolyn Lazard is a multidisciplinary artist based in Philadelphia and New York. Lazard has participated in exhibitions at Palais de Tokyo in Paris; Museum fur Moderne Kunst in Frankfurt, Germany; MIT List Visual Arts Center in Cambridge, Mass.; Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia; The Whitney Museum of American Art and The New Museum in New York City; Walker Art Center in Minneapolis; and Contemporary Art Centre in Vilnius, Lithuania. Lazard is a 2020 Disability Futures fellow and a 2021 United States Artists fellow. They hold an MFA from the University of Pennsylvania and a BA in Film and Anthropology from Bard College.

About BES

The Black Embodiments Studio is an arts writing incubator and public lecture series dedicated to building discourse around contemporary Black art. The incubator steeps participants in diverse models of arts writing for academic and non-academic audiences, and supports them as they develop their own pieces of short-form arts writing. Throughout the year, BES invites Black artists, curators, and writers to the Jacob Lawrence Gallery in Seattle to conduct workshops with program participants and give public talks about their practice. Past guests include Kameelah Janan Rashid, Claire Tancons, Taylor Renee Aldridge, Will Rawls, and many others. BES is a resident program of the Jacob Lawrence Gallery and School of Art + Art History + Design at the University of Washington.