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Baryshnikov Arts Center, Krannert Center, and Artsemerson Co-Present IN THE ABSENCE OF THINGS

A short film written and performed by Somi and directed by Mariona Lloreta.

Baryshnikov Arts Center, Krannert Center, and Artsemerson Co-Present IN THE ABSENCE OF THINGS

Baryshnikov Arts Center (BAC), together with co-commissioners Krannert Center for the Performing Arts (Urbana, IL) and ArtsEmerson (Boston, MA), co-present an exclusive first look of vocalist-composer and writer Somi Kakoma's new experimental short film, in the absence of things, on Tuesday, December 1 at 8pm ET, presented in partnership with National Black Theatre and Salon Africana. Following the free screening, available at, Somi and the director of the film, Mariona Lloreta, will be joined by Obie Award-winning Artistic Director of New York City's National Black Theatre (NBT), Jonathan McCrory, for a live conversation about the meaning of the film, the collaborators' creative process, and the role of Black artists during and beyond COVID-19.

The screening and discussion is free to access and can be viewed at The film and recorded conversation will be available to view until December 8 at 5pm.

in the absence of things chronicles the spiritual consequence of the global pandemic on creative practice. COVID-19 hit while Somi was on the road, so instead of returning to her residence in New York City, she decided to head to Illinois to shelter in place with her mother in the Midwestern town where she grew up. Like most people, Somi's professional life and plans were dramatically interrupted by the pandemic and she found herself reflecting on the deep sense of personal vacancy she was feeling in the absence of live performance.

Partially narrated by Somi's mother, the meditative film registers what Somi calls "the emotional vibration and undemocratic fragility of cultural space and the living stage." The piece also aims to frame the disruption of otherwise quieted cultural spaces as a larger metaphor for the work most American arts institutions still need to do in service of Black storytelling.

The work-which blends spoken word, art song, and movement with deconstructed concert recordings from Somi's new live album, Holy Room-Live at Alte Oper with Frankfurt Radio Big Band-was filmed over the course of an intensive three-day workshop in fall 2020. Somi and her collaborators carefully adhered to all established Covid health and safety protocols during the filming.

Somi was a 2015 Baryshnikov Arts Center (BAC) Resident Artist. She performed at BAC in 2016 and was the featured artist of the Fall Fête that year.

Virtual performance available at
Closed captioning will be available for this performance.

The film and conversation will last approximately one hour. A recording will be free and available for viewing at through December 8 at 5pm EST.

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