Moon Medicin: Mosaic Performance
music and dance
Scroll down this page to access the livestream for the performance on January 8 at 6:30 pm
The Phillips Collection presents Moon Medicin: Mosaic Performance, a Centennial commission combining music and dance, and engaging Sanford Biggers’s sand-floor installation created in dialogue with Gee’s Bend Quilts from the Phillips’s permanent collection as part of his Intersections project Mosaic.
Biggers’s multimedia work draws from the rich history and creative practices of African American music and performance, notably within his own Afro-futurist project, Moon Medicin, a collaborative group of musicians and artists who combine sound and music with an array of visual imagery referencing sci-fi, punk, Buddhist sacred geometry, coded symbology, film noir, minstrels, world politics, and ceremonial dance.
To conclude Sanford Biggers: Mosaic, the multi-disciplinary Moon Medicin: Mosaic Performance will feature harpist Parker Ramsay, dancers Nicoletta de la Brown and Daniel Phoenix Singh, and DC-artist Sheldon Scott. Directed by Biggers, the dancers will respond in an improvisational manner to the sound of Omolu, a piece written for solo harp by Brazilian-American composer Marcos Balter that invokes the Yoruban spirit of healing. Through this performance, Biggers’s sand-floor piece Fool’s Folly, which references Tibetan mandalas, will be activated then dismantled, emphasizing the temporal aspect of art.
Mosaic Performance is made possible by generous funding from the Sachiko Kuno Foundation.
Watch the Performance
Sanford Biggers (b. 1970, Los Angeles, California) lives and works in Harlem. His artistic practice integrates audio-visual installation, sculpture, drawing, video, music, and performance to create diverse artworks that invite synchronicity of different histories, cultures, identities, and religions. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2020 and the Rome Prize in Visual Arts in 2017. His most recent presentations include the solo exhibition Codeswitch organized by The Bronx Museum of the Arts (2020–21), as well as his large-scale sculpture Oracle at Rockefeller Center in New York City. Other solo exhibitions include the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (2018); the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (2016); the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (2012); and the Brooklyn Museum (2011), among others. His recent group exhibitions include the Metropolitan Museum of Art (2017), the Barnes Foundation (2017), and The Phillips Collection (2020). Biggers’s work is held in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; the Walker Center, Minneapolis; the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington, DC.
Praised by The Chicago Tribune as “minutely crafted” and “utterly lovely,” The New York Times as “whimsical” and “surreal,” and The Washington Post as “dark and deeply poetic,” the music of composer Marcos Balter (b.1974, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) is at once emotionally visceral and intellectually complex, primarily rooted in experimental manipulations of timbre and hyper-dramatization of live performance.
Recent performances include a Miller Theater Composer Portrait in 2018 and appearances at Carnegie Hall, Köln Philharmonie, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Wigmore Hall, ArtLab at Harvard University, Lincoln Center, Walt Disney Hall, Teatro Amazonas, Sala São Paulo, Park Avenue Armory, Teatro de Madrid, Bâtiment de Forces Motrices de Genève, and the Museum of Contemporary Art of Chicago. Recent festival appearances include those at Tanglewood Contemporary Music Festival, Ecstatic Music Festival, Acht Brücken, Aldeburgh Music Festival, Aspen, Frankfurter Gesellschaft für Neue Musik, Darmstadt Ferienkurse, and Banff Music Festival.
Past honors include fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, Civitella Ranieri Foundation, and the Tanglewood Music Center (Leonard Bernstein Fellow) as well as commissions from the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony Music Now, Meet the Composer, Fromm Foundation at Harvard, The Holland/America Music Society, The MacArthur Foundation, and the Art Institute of Chicago. His works are published by PSNY (Schott), and commercial recordings of his music are available through New Amsterdam Records, New Focus Recording, Parlour Tapes+, and Navona Records.
Highlights in 2019-2020 include guest residencies at Stanford University, Harvard University, University at Buffalo, University of California San Diego, Yellow Barn, and Egelsholm Castle, a new work for countertenor Anthony Roth Constanzo and the Shanghai Quartet commissioned by the Phillips Collection and Chamber Music America, a new work for cellist Jay Campbell and pianist Conor Hanick commissioned by the 92Y, the release of flutist Claire Chase’s live recording of “Pan” at Meyer Sound Studio, and performances by the JACK Quartet, the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), Constelation Chor, nois saxophone quartet, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony’s Soundbox Series, and others.
Recent collaborators include the rock band Deerhoof, dj King Britt and Alarm Will Sound, yMusic and Paul Simon, Orquestra Experimental da Amazonas Filarmonica, American Contemporary Music Ensemble, American Composers Orchestra, and conductors Susanna Malkki, Steven Schick, and Karina Canellakis.
Having previously taught at the University of Pittsburgh, Northwestern University, Lawrence University, Columbia University, and Columbia College Chicago, he is currently an Associate Professor of Music Composition at Montclair State University and a guest scholar at the University of Pennsylvania (Fall 2019). He currently lives in New York City.
Harpist Parker Ramsay’s career, unique in its integration of contemporary music and historical performance, defies easy categorization. Equally at home on modern and period harps, Parker is dedicated to invigorating the existing canon while delving into new and underperformed works. In 2020, the recording of his transcription of Bach’s Goldberg Variations for the King’s College, Cambridge label was praised as “remarkably special” (Gramophone), “nuanced and insightful” (BBC Music Magazine), “relentlessly beautiful” (WQXR), “marked by keen musical intelligence” (The Wall Street Journal) and “a resounding success” (The Independent). His essay on the transcription process, “Is Bach Better on Harp?” was published in The New York Times.
A native of Nashville, Tennessee, Parker began harp studies with his mother at a young age before moving to the UK at age 16. Parker was awarded the undergraduate organ scholarship at King’s College, Cambridge where he served under the direction of Stephen Cleobury. His tenure with the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge included performing for the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols in 2012, as well as six international tours and four recordings. Parker has performed at the Concertgebouw in (Amsterdam), the Royal Albert Hall (London), the Musée d’Orsay (Paris), the National Center for the Performing Arts in (Beijing), Sejong Center for the Performing Arts (Seoul), Verizon Hall in (Philadelphia), and Alice Tully Hall (New York City).
Parker is co-director of A Golden Wire, a period instrument ensemble devoted to French and English music from the seventeenth century. He has appeared with the Shanghai Camerata, the Academy of Sacred Drama, Ruckus, Teatro Nuovo and Apollo’s Fire. Upcoming projects include collaborations with composers Tom Morrison, Michael Seltenreich, David Fulmer, Saad Haddad, Josh Levine, Nico Muhly and Marcos Balter.
After receiving his bachelor’s degree in history at Cambridge, he pursued graduate studies in historical keyboards at Oberlin Conservatory. In 2014, he was awarded First Prize at the Sweelinck International Organ Competition. He then studied modern harp at The Juilliard School, under the tutelage of Nancy Allen. He is a regular contributor for VAN Magazine, and his writing has appeared in Cleveland Classical, The New York Times and The Washington Post. He lives in New York City.
Nicoletta Darita de la Brown is an award-winning interdisciplinary artist and chamána (shaman) who comes from a long line of healers. She is Black Latinx; proud to be a first-generation Panamanian born in the United States. She utilizes her health influencer platform, Vida Mágica Love, to share her passion for spiritual fitness, plant-medicine, healing travel, and all things tea!
Nicoletta uses rituals to create virtual and in-person collaborations with global brands and institutions. She frequently partners with TAZO, The Smithsonian, The Kennedy Center to create arts x wellness experiences.
She has been featured in major publications including: Oprah Magazine, The Washington Post, New York Magazine THE CUT, Parents Latina Magazine, UPROXX.
Her artworks re-conceive the life of an artist as thriving, nourishing herself and others during and through her art practice. She teaches ‘Mindfulness in Art Practice’ at Baltimore School for the Arts; former sculpture professor at Towson University and former adjunct faculty in the MFA in Community Arts Graduate Program at Maryland Institute College of Art.
DANIEL PHOENIX SINGH’s spheres of influence span broad categories across Higher Education, Field of Dance, LGBTQ Communities, South Asian Communities, and Arts practice, policy, and funding at local and national levels. His identities lie at the intersection of his queer, South Asian, immigrant, artist, and advocate roles in the various communities he inhabits.
Daniel attributes his love of dance to Pamela Matthews, a longtime friend, teacher, and advisor. He considers Karen Bernstein, Harriet Moncure Fellows, Mim Rosen (late), and Libby Smigel his cherished mentors. Daniel has worked closely with Lorry May of the Sokolow Foundation for many years and is deeply influenced by both Sokolow and May’s approach to dance. His initial training in Bharata Natyam was with Guru Meena Telikicherla, and he continues to train with leading choreographers from India. Daniel has studied the Cuban/Colombian variations of Salsa and Merengue with Javier Varela and Shawn Malone and has studied Tango with Sharna Fabiano. He continues to train at the Maryland Youth Ballet and with master teachers from India.
HIGHER EDUCATION: Daniel worked at the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) for over 20 years with leaders in undergraduate education. He was the one of the founding staff members of AAC&U’s Campus Diversity Initiative funded by Ford Foundation. This initiative brought together thoughtful curriculum change with a focus on Diversity and Inclusive Excellence on campuses with the intersection of technology to surface best practices to scale the project to over 1000 campuses in the United States.
DANCE/ARTS: Daniel Phoenix Singh is the Artistic Director and President of Dakshina/Daniel Phoenix Singh Dance Company. Working from a broad palette of styles such as Bharata Natyam, Modern Dance, and Social dance forms, Daniel creates vibrant dances that mirror the communities that inspire him. In modern dance, movement at its core, is a means of connecting to each other without the boundaries and burdens of text–an open to interpretation approach that allows the viewer to enter and leave with their own personal meaning. In Bharata Natyam, all movement (even abstract) leads towards an emotional transcendence, and is often grounded in the rich literary traditions of the many languages in South Asia. Daniel weaves together this confluence of South Asian and Modern Dance philosophies, aesthetics, and movement styles to create his signature hybridized work.
QUEER ORGANIZING: Daniel has led effective collaborations with individuals and organizations from a wide variety of backgrounds while working towards common, long-term goals through his work with QSANN (Queer South Asian National Network), Rainbow Dragon Fund (DC’s Queer Giving Circle), and KhushDC (a DC based South Asian Queer organization). The initiatives shared by these organizations included coalition building, advocacy, education, policy changes, organizational stability, and capacity building. Working with these national bodies helped him learn how to move common causes forward while supporting organizations at various stages of organizational development in a thoughtful manner.
ARTS POLICY AND FUNDING: Currently Daniel is the Division Chief for Tourism and Cultural Arts at Baltimore County in Maryland. His arts leadership experience includes creative placemaking projects, stewarding Arts & Entertainment Districts, effecting funding policies shifts to balance the disparities toward individual artists, and positioning non-hierarchical art forms as equally valid as the hierarchical ones. His expertise is frequently sought out in national granting organizations, state level policy and planning task forces, and national higher education programming. Currently he is focused on re-integrating Arts Education into the K-12 systems, lifting up BIPOC artists, and finding ways to keep live performing arts moving forward in the post COVID-19 world by partnering with Parks for outdoor performances.
EDUCATION AND BACKGROUND: Daniel draws on a diverse educational base with an MBA from Georgetown University, an MFA in Dance and a Graduate Certificate in Women’s Studies focusing on Critical Race Studies from the University of Maryland, and a Laban Movement Analyst Certificate from the Laban/Bartenieff Institute of Movement Studies in New York City. He received a baccalaureate degree in Dance at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. His current focus is on creating sustainable dance programs that support dancers both artistically and financially.
AWARDS AND RECOGNITION: His Dance Company Dakshina received the Founder’s Award for Innovation in Dance in 2007 and received the Emerging Group and Excellence in Costume Design in 2008 from the Metro DC Dance Awards. In 2009, Dakshina received a prestigious touring grant and performed Anna Sokolow’s work in India and also was the first US based dance company to visit Bangladesh since the country’s founding 40 years ago. In 2010, Artistic Director, Daniel Phoenix Singh became one of the youngest finalists for the DC Mayor’s Arts Awards in the Innovation in the Arts category. In 2011, Dakshina was one of only two US based dance companies to be invited to perform at the prestigious Maximum India Festival organized by Kennedy Center. In December of 2012, Sarah Kaufman the Pulitzer prize winning dance critic at the Washington Post selected Dakshina’s performance as one of the top three local performances of the year. Washington Performing Arts Society, in association with the Pola Nirenska Memorial Awards Committee, presented the 2013 Pola Nirenska Memorial Award for Outstanding Contribution to Dance to Daniel. The DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities recognized Dakshina with an Innovate Arts Award in 2015–Dakshina was the only dance company to receive this distinguished award which will support the community involved creation of this work.
Sheldon Scott creates performance-based artwork which plays in the intersection of race, economics and sexuality while impugning the mythologies of Black Male Supernaturality. His project explores pedagogy in American education, namely the canon of early childhood development, and seeks to give the audience the space to rethink American curricula and over a platform to engage reform.
Although born and raised in the Gullah/Geechee Lowcountry of South Carolina in the small town of Pawley’s Island, Scott now lives and works in Washington, D.C. as an artist. His work plays in the intersection of race, sexuality and economics, while impugning mythologies of Black Male Supernaturality. Scott’s work consists of performance, sculpture, installation, photo-based work, spoken word, creative nonfiction, objects and ephemera.
He is an alumnus of the Capital Fringe Theatre Festival and (e)merge Art Fair, and his storytelling has been shared on the stages of Busboys & Poets, Story District and The Moth, where he serves as host for the D.C. outpost. Scott’s Fine Arts practice has enjoyed exhibits at the WPA Select Auction, Arlington Arts Center, Delaware State University, Goucher University, Art Miami the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, National African Art Museum, Katzen Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery. He has been featured in Forbes Magazine, Blouin Art Info, Art 21 and Hyperallergic and his upcoming memoir, “Shrimp & Griots”, is based on his storytelling narratives of the same name. His recent performance installation, “The Finest Amenities”, was a site-specific work commissioned by Alexandria City and explored enslaved narratives from the Gadsby’s Tavern Inn while interrogating the relationship between personal identity and the environment. Scott is also represented by ConnerSmith Gallery in Washington, D.C.