Sun Ra in Egypt, 1971
By Tom Bogaert
May - June 2014
Medrar for Contemporary Art, Cairo
This art project by Tom Bogaert takes as its starting point Sun Ra`s 1971 visit to Egypt. The legendary American jazz pioneer, mystic, poet, and philosopher was born as Herman Poole Blount, but changed his name to Le Sony`r Ra after a visionary experience led him to believe that he came from the planet Saturn. From then on, Sun Ra was fascinated by both outer space and ancient Egypt. Incorporating the Egyptian sun god Ra into his name was the first of his many invocations of ancient Egypt`s culture and beliefs.
Famous for his music as much as his eccentricity, Sun Ra`s unique sonic productions reflected his mix of new age mysticism, black nationalism, Freemasonry, Kabbalah, Rosicrucianism, and other non-Western cosmologies. From the mid 1950s until his death in 1993, Sun Ra led a band called The Arkestra, which continues to perform its eccentric mix of free jazz, bop, and electronic music under the leadership of Marshall Allen.
The exhibition playfully inserts Sun Ra`s life and legacy into the conceptual, pop, and minimalist zeitgeist of the New York art world of the 1960s and 1970s. It is part of an ongoing research project based on the life and work of Sun Ra that exists as a series of performances, lectures, installations, videos, art objects, and a related publication.
Bogaert invited Dwarfs of East Agouza and Invisible Hands to pay tribute to Sun Ra`s music on the opening night.
[This video was produced by Medrar TV and is featured in partnership with Jadaliyya Culture.]