May 5, 2018 - Philadelphia Contemporary - Stellar Masses
May 5, 2018

Philadelphia Contemporary

Courtesy Philadelphia Contemporary.

Stellar Masses
A series of site-specific events featuring poetry, video, music, performance + sermons that embrace the sacred and interstellar
May 9–16, 2018
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Philadelphia Contemporary, a globally oriented visual and performance art nonprofit, is pleased to present Stellar Masses, a public festival spanning three days in May.

Organized as a series of gatherings that explore the sacred roots and interstellar potential of spoken word practices, Stellar Masses upholds the spoken word as at once ancient and futuristic, capable of testifying, time traveling, and spellbinding. The site-specific events will feature writers, musicians, and filmmakers, guiding attendees through a mind-expanding continuum of ritual and performance.

Curated by Philadelphia Contemporary’s newly appointed Curator of Spoken Word, Yolanda Wisher, Stellar Masses will feature King Britt, Samuel R. Delany, V. Shayne Frederick, Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Husnaa Hashim, Madison McFerrin, Sirius Juju, Moor Mother, Raquel Salas Rivera, Ursula Rucker, and Marvin K. White, among others, and short films by Renee Cox, Terence Nance, Frances Bodomo, Johan Grimonprez, and Saya Woolfalk. A complete listing of participants for each event is below.

“Stellar Masses is a cousin of the sermons of James Baldwin and Toni Morrison, the prophecies of Ralph Ellison and Octavia Butler, the mantras of Jayne Cortez and Amiri Baraka,” said Philadelphia Contemporary Curator of Spoken Word Yolanda Wisher. “Like freedom-seekers following the drinking gourd out of slavery or the Maya clocking eclipses, we humans have long looked up to the stars and heavens for answers to the deepest questions we have about ourselves. Witnesses are welcome at these pop-up churches of soul, where the exchange of energy between artists and audiences is bound to create something ecstatic."

Stellar Mass I, Firmament, will take place Wednesday, May 9, 6:30–8:30pm, at the Free Library Skyline Room & Terrace. Tickets available here.

Stellar Mass II, Heaven, will take place Thursday, May 10, 6:30–8:30pm, at the Iron Gate Theater. Tickets available here.

Stellar Mass III, Earth, will take place Wednesday, May 16, 6:45–8:30pm, at the Fels Planetarium. The performance will be preceded by a reception from 6–6:45pm. Tickets available here.

Hive Revival: A Stellar Masses Get Down, a celebration of the series, will take place Saturday, May 12, 7-11pm, at Union Transfer. The party will be free and open to the public. Tickets available here.

Tickets to Firmament and the Hive Revival are free, and tickets to both Heaven and Earth are at a cost. 

Each Stellar Mass will feature unique giveaways for attendees. The series is presented with support from the Daniel W. Dietrich II Foundation, and Stellar Mass I in partnership with The Free Library of Philadelphia.


Schedule and participants

Stellar Mass I: Firmament
Skyline Terrace, Free Library of Philadelphia
1901 Vine Street, Philadelphia, PA
Wednesday, May 9, 6:30–8:30pm

Presented in partnership with the Free Library of Philadelphia
Blessing by Philadelphia Youth Poet Laureate Husnaa Hashim
The Stellar Mass Choir
directed by V. Shayne Frederick
Performance by Sirius Juju
Film shorts by Terence Nance, Frances Bodomo, Johan Grimonprez, and Saya Woolfalk
Moor Mother
delivers The Word

Stellar Mass II: Heaven
Iron Gate Theater
3700 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA
Thursday, May 10, 6:30–8:30pm

Benediction by Philadelphia Poet Laureate Raquel Salas Rivera
The Stellar Mass Choir
directed by V. Shayne Frederick
Samuel R. Delany
and Alexis Pauline Gumbs deliver The Word
Performance by Bethlehem and Sad Patrick
A book signing with Samuel R. Delany, Alexis Pauline Gumbs, and Raquel Salas Rivera will follow.

Hive Revival: A Stellar Masses Get Down
Union Transfer
1026 Spring Garden St, Philadelphia, PA
Saturday, May 12, 7–11pm

Stellar Mass III: Earth
Fels Planetarium at The Franklin Institute
222 N 20th St, Philadelphia, PA
Wednesday, May 16, 6–8:30pm

Libation by Ursula Rucker
The Stellar Mass Choir
directed by V. Shayne Frederick
Marvin K. White
delivers The Word
King Britt presents Fhloston Paradigm
Star show by Madison McFerrin
Film shorts by Renee Cox and Will Haughery & Kris Harzinski

Tickets to all Stellar Masses events are available here.

Philadelphia Contemporary
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