On the occasion of Counterpublic 2023, Torkwase Dyson presents Bird and Lava (Scott Joplin), a commissioned, immersive architectural and sonic installation. This new sculptural work is inspired by the legacy of pianist and composer Scott Joplin and the musical freedom Joplin found in ragtime music, which is credited as the first truly "American" musical form - a syncopated blend of classical piano and African polyrhythms with mathematical precision. Dyson's Bird and Lava (Scott Joplin) is positioned in Mill Creek Valley, a landscape central to the evolution of ragtime, and creates a visual syncopation with multiple vantage points along its structure, immersed in the discordant environment of St Louis. The artist also invites movement artists, choreographers, and musicians to adapt the structure of ragtime into a series of performances in and around her installation. Further, Bird and Lava (Scott Joplin) aims to make transhistorical connections between Black liberation strategies formed to refuse slavery’s spatial violence and its structural continuities in the present ecological crisis. The work continues to expand on Dyson’s goal to speak to the poetics of both the quotidian and the existential realities of climate change.
Counterpublic is a civic exhibition that weaves contemporary art into the life of St. Louis for three months every three years. Counterpublic 2023 will consider the entanglements of time in the city - its complex histories, charged present, and many possible futures - in one layered exhibition.