It was only recently – by releasing Leron Thomas‘s Take It.. album – that we discovered the work of Malik Crumpler (who produced the album and co-arranged the first tracks on it) Little did we know Malik was such a bright spirit, going from poetry, over video making and music production, to writing and performing, and curating thosethatthis.com.
The video above had us asking quite a couple of questions, which we basically just sent to Malik, he then replied and well.. read along! And be on the look-out for any future endeavers of mr.Crumpler!
1. How did this video come about? What was the process, was their an initial goal, and did you feel like you reached it?
The first video I did using video clips from museums was Annunaki Funk in 2010 which I filmed at the National History museum and the Met in New York, the second one I did was a piece called Zukofsky’s Stomp which was filmed in the Moma and the Met and the Guggenheim back when it was illegal to film in these places. Back then I just wanted to something different. You know no rap cats where ever talking about painting and painters and shit like that. I always was and cats had no reference for my words, so I just wanted to show what I was saying. You know also I’ve always done a lot of studying in museums because I get a lot of my inspiration from the work in museums and galleries.
About three years ago my man Jonathan Finlayson gave me John A Williams book called !Click Song wherein the main character goes around museum exhibitions changing the note cards that go alongside the exhibited works to tell what he believes is the “Real” truth about the pieces. This character eventually gets caught by security and instead of them arresting him they tell him to go to the Tate and do it there too! Jon’ and I found this to be hilarious and brilliant because Jon and I are like museum hounds in New York, since early 2000s we’ve been faithful museum monks! So one day in the Moma Jon recommended that we should do it but flip it and go beyond just changing the cards. I kept that in mind for years and eventually decided I should write up a thing and record it in museums but I could never find anyone to film it for me. So I quit thinking about it.
So this past Spring when Anais and I were in Barcelona she and I were talking so much shit in the Antoni Tapies museum that she whipped her phone out and was like, “I’ma record this so you can hear how much shit you talk.” I was like, “nah we’ll get kicked out.” and she was like, “We do it quick when no ones looking and then act like it was just a photo, they’ll let us take photos.” So then I was like bet! So we did that and after she played it back, she was like, “You sound like your saying poems.” And that’s when I was like good idea, and she said, “say your poems from Little Everywhere or Locked Language.” and the problem was that I didn’t have my books on me because we didn’t plan on doing this shit, and also I can’t memorize my poems. So she said, “make em up!” So that’s how it happened. And it was fun for us so we just kept doing it. We didn’t plan on it becoming this big long thing, but it’s funny because we had watched the Tapies documentary before all this started and he was going off in there about trusting intuition and allow the alchemy to come through you pure and unbothered by thinking so it’s as if the alchemical spirit of Tapies programmed us with the main inspiration for this. But yeah so after that day where ever we went if I got the vibe we’d film. And then she started filming how hilarious it was that everyone was taking pictures, and also because we could get away with filming only by acting like the people taking selfys because photos are permitted but filming is not. So when security would bother us she’d just say she was setting up the shot! HAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!! So yeah that’s how it came about.
As for the goal, the goal didn’t come together until we got back to Paris and had all this footage to sort out because we had about two and a half hours of film to edit. Our initial plan was to do them in installments, but then because Anais is an experimental film buff and got her masters degree in Art History she immediately noticed the validity of the one long absurdist SELFY notion. We’re both DADA and Duchamp zealots so we watched some of their old videos and were like, lets make it LONG!!!!!!!! The person who doesn’t want to watch it will turn it off anyway and the person who likes it would want more, so LETS OVER DO IT!!!!!! Just like how all the people with all their selfy OVERDUE IT!!!!! Everyone has hundreds of selfys now and days so to stay true to the spirit of the selfy we overdid it too. HAAAAAAAA! So yeah she got really deep into examining all the tourists in both Spain and Paris going selfy crazy, because she’s not on any social media sites she couldn’t believe it, and when I showed her what was really going on with facebook and twitter and instagram she started really coming up with all these great ways to translate the selfy culture to film. So in that case yeah we reached our goal by making it excessive and grimmy and random just like “SELFY NATION”.
But also to be completely honest the main goal was to capture the authentic instantaneous nature of true automatic writing and improvisation. We didn’t set up shots we didn’t plan anything, we couldn’t you had to dodge security and go to areas where security wasn’t looking, the shot you want to take you can’t get because that’s where security is. We didn’t have that problem so much with the outdoor things or in Sagrada Familia. So yeah we wound up really getting the immediacy of the moment and the nature of my freestyling raps and poems in direct response to the art works and environment. So yeah we accomplished our goals.
The music in the video is by Weird Happyness and features Leron Thomas. We added the music after we made the video as a means to link the poeticism or music and poetry in the old troubadorian Orphic tradition.
2. Did you have any examples/influences when making the video?
As far as influences go when making it, we were inspired by the work we were around and the audience in the museums going nuts over the spectacle and thus becoming the spectacle themselves while taking selfys. After we had the footage then we needed to edit it and for that stuff our favorite experimentalist inevitably inspired us Jean Cocteau, Gordon Parks, Jim Jarmusch,Terry Gilliam, Fellinni, Richard Pryor and Jodorowsky you know all the usual big influences in everything I do cinematically. Philosophically though, Anais had turned me on to the works of Pierre Bourdieu and de Certeau, while I was in Paris and when I was staying in San Michel I was always at Shakespeare and Co. reading Andre Malraux and Debord in between editing Little Everywhere and Locked Language so their theories and concepts where heavy in the way were processing and approaching the hegemony of the museum environment and the supposed effect of the museum and spectacle it creates through symbolism on the viewer or culture… So all that was inevitably all up in there.
3. What were you doing in Paris/Europe?
I was in Paris because I was an artist in residency at the B’AM Residency and reediting Little Everywhery while working on Locked Language for BAM. I was also doing performances? for and with BAM and collaborating with Jonathan Randall Grant on some stuff. The results of which were several videos that went in conjunction with Little Everywhere and Locked Language which B’AM published while I was there. I also did a feature over at Spoken Word Paris with David Barnes and the crew! After Paris I headed over to Turkei and did some readings and short videos in Ankara and Istanbul with Cinla Akdere who’s writing has always inspired me. But mainly I was over there in Europe reinventing myself and studying their museums and galleries and art scenes and finally getting exposed to that deep ancient contemporary Euro art scene. Anne V and David Simard at BAM were so encouraging and inspiring you know, they don’t bother you at all with “what they think you should do” they have created an environment of not stop “ART”. You know, they had muscians, lyricist and photographers, painters, fashion folks, all that shit from all over Europe, Canada the U.S. And all that in and out of the residency performing and swapping ideas and then Jonathan Randall Grant was in dual residency with me and he’s such a mutli-disciplined “art spider” inspiration until it was just ceaseless creativity all day everyday. So I was really over there getting happily drowned in the arts! And then when I wasn’t at BAM I was out in Belleville and Gambetta with Asma and Anais and Konfie Free getting saturated in that scene performing and editing too you know.
4. Will there be more videos like this one in the (near) future?
I hope so, I want to do some stuff in London at the Tate. But what I really want to do is something like this at the religious temples too all over the world and mix the notion of divine inspiration with divine place and setting. But we’ll see, I don’t think it will be just like this one though because with this one we had no idea it was going to happen so we really had no plan or structure. So we had no blueprint to work from. Anything from here on out would be based on this. That alone takes away some of the spontaneity you know. HA! But yeah I definitely would love to do something like this again.