SAR Benefit: A Screening of J.C. Abbey, Ghana's Puppeteer

Event, Screening will be held at the Center for Contemporary Arts (CCA).

Wednesday, April 20, 2016, 7:00 pm, $25 per person

J.C Abbey, Ghana's puppeteerJ.C Abbey, Ghana's puppeteerImage courtesy of Steven Feld.J.C Abbey, Ghana's puppeteerImage courtesy of Steven Feld.

Join us on April 20 at 7 p.m. at the Center for Contemporary Arts (CCA) for a screening of J.C.ABBEY, GHANA’S PUPPETEER, followed by a discussion with one of the filmmakers, Steven Feld. This one-time screening is a benefit for SAR’s community education and outreach programs. Tickets are $25 per person, which includes the 55-minute film and post-screening discussion. Please call 505-982-1338 to purchase tickets in advance.

J.C.ABBEY, GHANA’S PUPPETEER documents an exceptional fifty-year artistic career, from Accra’s streets to Ghana’s villages to international TV. In fifteen delightful puppet shows, Mr. Abbey is joined by musicians Nii Noi Nortey and Nii Otoo Annan, and filmmakers Nii Yemo Nunu and Steven Feld to chronicle Ghana’s music since independence in 1957. The marionettes perform ethnic songs, dances and stories, but featured equally are the sounds of highlife, Afro-jazz, Afro-rock, reggae, and contemporary hiplife. The innovative soundtrack includes historical documents from radio, TV and broadcast, and LP, as well as new compositions commissioned and performed to playback.

Steven Feld is a MacArthur Foundation “genius” award winner, past SAR Board member and SAR fellow. This film is the fifth feature in his Jazz Cosmopolitanism in Accra series, which mixes styles of historical documentary and contemporary music video. Through the pleasures of performance, it reveals the cosmopolitan politics that intertwine ethnic, traditional, national, and global musical styles in Ghana today.

“The puppeteers’ virtuosity and the genre-crossing of historical documentary and MTV-style pop music video are extraordinary,” says Feld. “And while I am listed as the filmmaker here, in fact the film was produced, performed and filmed as a collective, a group that involves the 4 Ghanaians (puppeteer, 2 musicians, and photographer) and me. That collective/collaborative production is a definite plus.”

Steven Feld is Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and Music at the University of New Mexico. In 1991 he received a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, and in 1994 was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. A 2003–2004 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellow, he was also named in 2003 as the 15th recipient of the Koizumi Fumio Prize for Ethnomusicology, the major award for career achievement in the field.

Dr. Feld’s academic research principally concerns the anthropology of sound. Since the mid-1970s, he has studied the sound world of the Bosavi rainforest region in Papua New Guinea. Another project is a CD series on the history and culture of bells in Europe. Since 2004 he has been studying jazz in West Africa.

His books include Sound and Sentiment (2012, 3rd/30th anniversary edition, Duke University Press); J. I. Staley Prize, 1991); Music Grooves (with Charles Keil, 1994, University of Chicago Press; Chicago Folklore Prize, 1995); Senses of Place (edited with Keith Basso, 1996, SAR Press); Bosavi-English-Tok Pisin Dictionary (with Bambi Schieffelin, 1998, ANU Press); Jean Rouch: Ciné-Ethnography (editor/translator, 2003, University of Minnesota Press); and Jazz Cosmopolitanism in Accra: Five Musical Years in Ghana, 2012, Duke University Press book; companion DVDs and CDs issued by VoxLox.

His CD recordings include Voices of the Rainforest (1991, Rykodisc); Rainforest Soundwalks (2001, EarthEar); Bosavi: Rainforest Music from Papua New Guinea (2001, Smithsonian Folkways); Bells and Winter Festivals of Greek Macedonia (2002, Smithsonian Folkways); Por Por: Honk Horn Music of Ghana (2007, Folkways); and on his VoxLox label, Iraqi Music in A Time of War: Rahim AlHaj in New York (2003), The Time of Bells (2004, 2005, 2006), and CDs by Accra Trane Station.

Follow us: