On Wednesday April 4th 2018, the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's assassination, Melvin Gibbs will present the performance “King's Market: Now Closed”.
Incorporating sound, scent and ritual elements, “King's Market: Now Closed” is a meditation on memory, the unavoidable violence awakened by the struggle for racial equality in the US, humanity's use of the ephemeral to mark life, and the transient nature of human-centered existence.
Structured as a ceremony, the piece begins at the time on the clock that King was assassinated on the balcony of the Lorraine Hotel, evokes his last minutes, marks the time of his death, continues on --- invoking a mythic/mystical post-life journey, his “home going", incorporates a ritual recognition of transience, then ends.
The performance begins outdoors, with a musical Call to the Community marking the moment King was felled by single shot. The assembly then moves indoors to witness a sonic invocation by Gibbs and guitarist/composer ( and Harriet Tubman - the band co-leader) Brandon Ross dedicated to and evoked by King’s last, post-gunshot minutes on Earth.
Olfactory elements relating to King's last minutes (which include King's cologne, the cigarette he was smoking on the balcony when he was shot, and the smell caused by the events in the room where he spent his last minutes) will be released at specific points during the performance, serving to both evoke King’s last moments and connect the audience and participants to their own personal olfactory memories.
The closing of King's Market, MLK’s death, will be commemorated by a “sound bath” from the Sound Immersion Ensemble. In a similar fashion to the way the olfactory elements evoked King's last minutes, the sound of the ensemble endeavors to both evoke the otherworldly sound of King’s new home and connect the audience to their own personal “otherworld”.
The final section of the performance will consist of a short participatory ritual that uses tobacco to both mark the ephemeral nature of human existence and to mark the fact that King went out on the balcony of the Lorraine Hotel to smoke a cigarette, making tobacco in one sense the cause of King's death. The ritual area will incorporate a sigil from Gibbs’ Spirit Book, his book of personal revelations.
Melvin Gibbs (b.1958, Brooklyn) lives and works in Brooklyn New York. Called “the best bassist in the world” by Time Out New York magazine, The band he currently co-leads, Harriet Tubman, was cited as giving one of the “Best Jazz Performances of 2017” by the New York Times”, Gibbs is a Grammy-nominated songwriter whose wide- ranging resume includes composing music for Arto Lindsay’s .2009 Venice Biennale performance, composing music for visual artists Stan Douglas and Matthew Barney and a long-term relationship with artist Arthur Jafa. He currently collaborating with theoretical cosmologist Stephon Alexander. Together they are collaborating with NASA-embedded artist Justin Brice Guariglia, who is documenting climate change in the polar regions. Their performance “Speculative Auralizations of the Anthropocene” was presented at the Norton Museum of Art in December 2017.
The musical components of 'King’s Market: Now Closed were developed:
- by Spontaneous Composition in collaboration with Brandon Ross
- in consultation with Michael Jay
The scent component of “King’s Market: Now Closing” was developed in consultation with Sean Raspet