Artblog Celebrating 20 Years!   Support Us Today!

Anri Sala work in Hidden City Philadelphia


Mari Shaw developed and curated the showing of the Anri Sala video piece for Hidden City. The piece opens June 10 at the Royal Theater on South Street. We were particularly interested since we had seen Sala’s work at Temple Gallery in 2005, and Andrea had seen his work at the Irish Museum of Modern Art in 2006. Here’s Mari’s report:

The work of  internationally-acclaimed video/film artist Anri Sala will be presented in Philadelphia on the evenings of  June 10 and June 11, 2009  at the Royal Theater as part of the “Hidden City” citywide exhibition.

Anri Sala, The Long Sorrow video still, showing Jameel Moondoc playing; photo courtesy Johnen Galerie,
Anri Sala, Long Sorrow video still, showing Jameel Moondoc playing; photo courtesy Johnen Galerie,

Anri Sala’s “Long Sorrow” (2005) is a 13-minute video in which free-jazz saxophonist Jameel Moondoc is suspended from a building in the periphery of Berlin in a neighborhood nicknamed “Long Sorrow” by those who live there.  Jameel is the continuing presence in the video which begins with close-ups of his neck and mouth before revealing his whole person suspended outside the window of the building.  Jameel plays his music throughout the video as neighborhood buildings appear. Light reflects off the curves and gestures of Jameel’s face intermittently as the camera scans the neighborhood.

Marshall Allen of the Sun Ra Arkestra

For the June 10 performance at the Royal Theater, Jameel will appear live to play an impromptu duet with himself while “Long Sorrow” is being shown.  For the June 11 performance, Marshall Allen, leader of the world-renowned Sun Ra Arkestra, will appear live to do an impromptu duet/performance while “Long Sorrow” is being shown.


Anri Sala (right) making the Long Sorrow; photo courtesy Johnen Galerie
Anri Sala (right) making Long Sorrow; photo courtesy Johnen Galerie

Anri found The Royal Theater—- the original site of African American culture, jazz and cinema in Philadelphia—-to be a fitting setting for the showing of his piece in “Hidden City”.  Fats Waller, Bessie Smith, Pearl Baily, Billy Paul and other greats performed at the Royal, and the African American musician union was formed at the Royal Theater.

The Royal Theater interior
The Royal Theater interior

The once grand Royal Theater, an enormous, high-ceilinged space has been crumbling since 1970 when it was closed.   The building’s bones – including the original projection room — are crickety but still there, and the building’s deterioration and marks of the passage of time have created their own grandeur.   On June 10 and 11, the Royal Theater will add to its history.  For two nights, the grande dame  building of South Street will be alive again with jazz and video and people. Tickets are available here