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Talking Music: Hiss Golden Messenger and William Gedney

with M.C. Taylor, Jim Findlay, Margaret Sartor, and Tom Rankin
November 11th, 2015
12:00 PM


Wednesday, November 11

12:00 p.m. - 1:15 p.m.

Forum for Scholars and Publics (011 Old Chem)

Light lunch served.

M.C. Taylor, leader of the band Hiss Golden Messenger, and Jim Findlay, stage director and designer, are joined by photographer and William Gedney scholar Margaret Sartor in a conversation moderated by Tom Rankin, director of Duke’s MFA in Experimental and Documentary Arts, about Heart Like a Levee, Taylor and Findlay’s project which draws from Gedney’s 1972 collection of Eastern Kentucky photographs, housed at Duke. The conversation will explore Gedney’s influence and Taylor and Findlay’s collaboration. Heart Like a Levee premieres at Reynolds Industries Theater on Friday, November 13 and Saturday, November 14.

Part of an on-going series, Talking Music: Conversations with Scholars, Writes, Archivists, and Artists, co-sponsored by Duke Performances and the Forum for Scholars and Publics.

Made possible, in part, with an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, and support from the Archive of Documentary Arts at David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Duke University.

M.C. Taylor

Hiss Golden Messenger

M.C. Taylor, Durham-based musical omnivore, birthed the folk rock band, Hiss Golden Messenger. "At once firmly steeped in tradition and immediately accessible" (NPR), Hiss Golden Messenger calls up a wide spectrum of American vernacular music, from Archie Brownlee to the Staple Singers, from Van Morrison to Townes Van Zandt. HGM was technically born back in California, where a young Taylor dabbled in hardcore punk, indie rock, folk, and country rock while he was a student at University of California-Santa Barbara. HGM truly came to fruition, however, as a Southern project during Taylor's days in a small rental home in Pittsboro, NC, out near Haw River. Taylor also graduated from the UNC-Chapel Hill folklore graduate program and worked at Duke's very own Center for Documentary Studies, but is now committed full time to HGM.

Jim Findlay

Jim Findlay works across boundaries as a director, designer, visual artist and performer. He was a founding member of the Collapsable Giraffe and Accinosco/Cynthia Hopkins, and is a frequent collaborator with Bang on a Can, Ralph Lemon, and Ridge Theater. He worked with the Wooster Group as a company member and designer from 1994-2003. Recent productions include The Whisper Opera (Director and designer), Botanica (writer and director), David Lang’sLove Fail (set and video design), Annie Dorsen’s A Piece of Work (set and video design), and David T. Little/Royce Vavrek’s Dog Days (set and video design). Meditation, the video installation which he created in collaboration with Ralph Lemon was recently acquired by the Walker Art Center for their permanent collection. His work has been seen at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, BAM, Arena Stage, A.R.T. and over 50 cities worldwide including Berlin, Istanbul, London, Moscow, and Paris. He is currently creating a piece for a sleeping audience, Dream of the Red Chamber,which will be presented by PS122 in Spring 2014. He has received two Obie awards, two Bessie awards, a Lucille Lortel award, and a Henry Hewes award. 

Margaret Sartor

Duke University

As renowned photographer and William Gedney scholar, Margaret Sartor currently teaches at Duke University and is based in Durham with her husband and two children. Born and raised in Louisiana, Sartor took intimate photographs of her hometown and family, many of which appeared in a number of photographic books like In Their Mother's EyesBlack: A Celebration of CultureThe Spirit of Family, and A New Life: Stories and Photographs from the Suburban South, edited by our very own Alex Harris and Alice George. Her influential memoir, Miss American Pie: A Diary of Love, Secrets, and Growing Up in the 1970's, is based on the diaries and notebooks she kept as a little girl, and delving into the same emotional and geographic territory has continued to evolve and shape her photographs for almost two decades. She has curated exhibitions of photography at the International Center for Photography in New York, the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, and the San Francisco Museum of Art. She has published three books about photography.

Tom Rankin

Duke University

Tom Rankin is former director of the Center for Documentary Studies, professor of the practice of art and documentary studies, and director of the MFA in Experimental and Documentary Arts at Duke University. A photographer, filmmaker, and folklorist, Rankin has been documenting and interpreting American culture for more than twenty years. Formerly associate professor of art and Southern studies at the University of Mississippi and chair of the Art Department at Delta State University, he was educated at Tufts University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Georgia State University. A native of Kentucky, he has curated a number of exhibitions and published numerous articles and reviews on photography and Southern culture. His photographs have been published widely in numerous magazines, journals, and books, and he has exhibited throughout the country. His books include Sacred Space: Photographs from the Mississippi Delta (1993), which received the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award for Photography; 'Deaf Maggie Lee Sayre': Photographs of a River Life (1995); Faulkner's World: The Photographs of Martin J. Dain(1997); and Local Heroes Changing America: Indivisible (2000).