Journeys with the initiated / Film program in two parts featuring Charlie Ahearn, Ray Marsh, and Tiona Nekkia McClodden

Journeys with the initiated
Film program in two parts featuring Charlie Ahearn, Ray Marsh, and Tiona Nekkia McClodden

Martial artist Nathan Ingram during the making of The Deadly Art of Survival. Photo: Charlie Ahearn, 1978

Journeys with the initiated
Film program in two parts featuring Charlie Ahearn, Ray Marsh, and Tiona Nekkia McClodden
January 12, 2019
311 East Broadway
New York, NY 10002

Join us at e-flux on Saturday, January 12 for a special, two-part film program organized in parallel to the exhibition Journeys with the initiated, on view at e-flux and Participant Inc through January 13.

The program features Charlie Ahearn’s The Deadly Art of Survival (1979), followed by a talk with the filmmaker; and Ray Marsh’s Lord Shango (1975), followed by a talk with Journeys with the initiated contributing artist Tiona Nekkia McClodden.

4pm Part One
Charlie Ahearn, The Deadly Art of Survival (
1979, 75 minutes); followed by a talk with the filmmaker 
In 1978, while prowling around the Lower East Side shooting short films with his 16mm Bolex camera, Ahearn got to know the mostly black and Puerto Rican students of a martial-arts school/community center. Soon Ahearn joined forces with the kids to create this homemade, LES-set kung fu movie, an homage to the martial-arts films saturating the grindhouses at the time, as well as an invaluable record of the neighborhood and its residents. Shot on Super-8mm and starring Nathan Ingram, the kung fu school’s real life leader, The Deadly Art of Survival dramatizes its protagonists’ struggle against local drug dealers operating out of a rival karate school called the Disco Dojo. The story plays out before an urban landscape that includes local handball courts painted by graffiti artist Lee Quinones, soon to take the starring role in Ahearn’s follow-up film Wild Style

6pm Part Two 
Ray Marsh, Lord Shango (1975, 1h 32 minutes); followed by a talk with Tiona Nekkia McClodden

In this blaxploitation/horror film, black African American Christians confront the traditional religion of their peers when a Yoruban priest is drowned after trying to stop the Christian baptism of a young girl and her mother. Trouble ensues when the priest come back to life. Lord Shango was filmed near the town of Friendsville in eastern TN, for which the producers built a Yoruba village based on King Oba Oseijeman Adefunmi’s African Village in Sheldon, SC, where Nigerian descendents had settled six years earlier. King Oba and members of his group traveled to Friendsville to insure the authenticity of the set and the Yoruban ceremonies.

The film will be followed by a talk with artist Tiona Nekkia McClodden, whose work an offering six years a conjecture (2018, showing at Participant Inc as part of Journeys with the initiated) offers a reflection on the intersections of her personal spiritual practice and its relationship to international ethnographic research regarding the Orisha Shango. A deity whose origin can be traced back to ancient Nigeria, Shango functions as an important figure in African Diasporic ritual practices. an offering six years a conjecture extends a form of auto-ethnography that disrupts monolithic views around spiritual practices and the perception of the Orisha Shango, both within the field of ethnography and in broader American visual culture. As a meditation on the often solitary and mundane nature of ritual practices, McClodden presents a rejoinder to the codifying tendencies of ethnographic practices.

Charlie Ahearn is a film director, artist, and writer residing in New York City. His film Wild Style was first screened in 1982 and went on to become the classic Hip Hop movie. After directing other films such as Fear of Fiction and artist documentaries, Ahearn co-authored the book Yes Yes Y’all (2002), an oral history of the first decade of Hip Hop with photos by Ahearn. His book Wild Style The Sampler was published in 2007 on the film’s 25th anniversary. Ahearn has been producing documentaries such as Richard Hunt Sculptor (2010), Jamel Shabazz Street Photographer (2011), and Hip Hop musical shorts, his latest being All City Take It To The Bridge. Recently, Ahearn presented the solo exhibition Scratch Ecstasy at P.P.O.W gallery with a slide show, videos, photographs, and silkscreen paintings.

Tiona Nekkia McClodden is a visual artist, filmmaker, and curator whose work explores and critiques issues at the intersections of race, gender, and sexuality. McClodden’s interdisciplinary approach traverses documentary film, experimental video, sculpture, and sound installations, to explore themes of re-memory and, more recently, narrative biomythography. McClodden has exhibited and screened work at institutions including the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Whitney Museum, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; and Performance Space, New York. The recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, she most recently received the 2018-19 Keith Haring Fellowship in Art and Activism at Bard College, New York and the 2017 Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award.

Journeys with the initiated is on view at e-flux and Participant Inc through January 13, 2019, featuring artists Malik Gaines, Evan Ifekoya, Grada Kilomba, Tiona Nekkia McClodden, and Virginia de Medeiros, and curated by Yesomi Umolu with Katja Rivera. For more information on the exhibition, locations, and hours click here.

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