Blog: MCA DNA

Jazz Movement Study: Opening Day, Part 2

By Chad Kouri

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Chad Kouri, Jazz Movement Study, 2015 Courtesy of the artist

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As The Freedom Principle comes to an end this weekend, I thought it would be nice to reflect back on the exhibition’s opening day.

Among the whirlwind of activity, the museum's Pritzker Director Madeleine Grynsztejn and I briefly chatted about the opening festivities and she mentioned that the performances and workshops held throughout the day brought a larger and more diverse audience into the museum than any other Saturday opening in her recent memory. As I looked around, the vast mix of ages, genders, backgrounds, and ethnicities brought a warm glow to my heart.

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National Information Society at The Freedom Principle opening day, Jul 11, 2015 Photo: Chad Kouri

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One of the most exciting parts of the day for me was the performance by Natural Information Society. A burbling stew of electronic and analog instrumentation, their sound felt more like a meditative expression than a rigorously constructed composition. But don’t let the soundscape fool you. Although their musical progression is slow moving, it is very intentional and deliberate. Inspired by the colors of Lisa Alvarado’s backdrop paintings, the movement studies I created during this performance are some of my favorite to date. Radiant hues were put on paper in hypnotic repetition, one by one, yet overlapping as if they were separate printing plates of an editioned print.

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Chad Kouri, Jazz Movement Study, 2015 Courtesy of the artist

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Previous renditions of my jazz movement studies have developed into patterns as more elements were added; yet these opening day drawings utilize a patterned and repetitive approach on a much smaller scale. Each movement of the juicy Crayola marker on toothy newsprint is repeated numerous times, starting at the top left corner and continuing left to right, down the page, as if I were writing a poem. Sometimes the paper was rotated to create perpendicular patterns, criss-crossing in a bright and lively weaving of gestures.

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Chad Kouri, Jazz Movement Study, 2015 Courtesy of the artist

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The style of these works, and the metaphor I used to describe them can be rewritten word for word to describe Natural Information Society’s performance. A tight, churning gust of slow-moving momentum, their tunes act like blood running through the body, bringing life to a whole greater than it’s parts. I often describe specific kinds of music as having medicinal qualities, and this performance definitely fits into that realm—giving the listener enough room to ponder, while slowly progressing and growing, promoting accelerated thought and internal investigation. Just plain lovely.

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Chad Kouri, Jazz Movement Study, 2015 Courtesy of the artist

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I’ve been extremely fortunate to play even a small roll in The Freedom Principle, starting with the early days when the curators were first developing the floor plan through closing day. The momentum that this exhibition has created for me over the past four months has deeply affected my practice, my outlook, and my confidence in so many ways that it will likely be a long while before another show moves me in the same way that this exhibition has, and for some reason, I’m totally okay with that.