Cauleen Smith:
Crow Requiem

April 7 – May 30, 2015
Thurs. – Sat., dusk – 11pm
Everson Museum Plaza
401 Harrison Street, Syracuse, NY

Related Events

Workshop: DIY Time Travel in the Afrofuture
RSVP required

Tuesday, April 7, 2015, 10:30am
Light Work Lab

Artist Talk: Cauleen Smith

Tuesday, April 7, 2015, 2pm
SU campus, Shemin Auditorium

Speculations: Science Fiction, Chronopolitics, and Social Change
Artist Talk, Performance, and Panel Conversation

Tuesday, April 7, 2015, 6:30pm
Everson Museum, Hosmer Auditorium

Light Work’s Urban Video Project (UVP) is pleased to announce the exhibition and world premiere of Crow Requiem, a new video work by artist and filmmaker Cauleen Smith, from April 7-May 30, 2015.

The exhibition will take place at UVP’s Everson venue, a year-round outdoor projection onto the north facade of the Everson Museum of Art. Crow Requiem was created by Smith for UVP during her December 2014 residency at Light Work.

Several related events, including Speculations: Science Fiction, Chronopolitics, and Social Change —a panel talk, performance, and reception— are planned in conjunction with the exhibiton.

These programs are presented as the final installment of Celestial Navigation: a year into the afro future, a year-long program of exhibitions and events at Urban Video Project and partner organizations that takes afrofuturism as its point of departure.

About the Work

Crow Requiem
Run Time: 11:08

Crows are well known for their mythological reputation as tricksters and harbingers of death, but less for the reality that they are creatures of remarkable intelligence who lead complex social lives. Smith became fascinated by these misunderstood animals when she noticed the massive flock of crows roosting outside her bedroom window during her artist residency at Light Work. She learned that the native population of crows circulates between Syracuse and nearby Auburn, NY; and that this migration is partly in response to harassment and, at times, state-sanctioned violence at the hands of a human population who view them as a nuisance. Smith interweaves the figure of the crow through the histories of these two cities, both of which were key stations on the Underground Railroad and innovators in early cinematic and 3D optical technologies. “Crow Requiem” connects this history to recent and ongoing violence against people of color at the hands of the state. Shot on location in Central New York, and featuring selections from Onondaga Historical Association’s extensive archive of 19th century stereoscopic images.

From the artist:

A Speculation: Humans are estranged from our origins. We left the commonwealth of Animals and declared ourselves the custodians of that dominion. And now We are Man; and all else is Other. Our knowledge of ourselves is a fog that consumes us. We cannot see past it, because we do not want to look into it. There are more than two points of view, but the fog makes it difficult to see. This is a sad song, a blues song, an elegy for the past sphere of consciousness we abandoned in favor of eating our own young.

Direction & Edit: Cauleen Smith
Featuring: Khaliah Major
Camera: Cauleen Smith, Anneka Herre, Neven Lochhead

About the Artist

Cauleen Smith’s interdisciplinary practice merges improvisational music, speculative fiction, African-American history, and processional forms to create temporal and spatial ruptures that make room for new affinities, empathies, and consciousnesses.

Smith’s films, objects, and installations have been featured in group exhibitions at the Studio Museum of Harlem, NY; Houston Contemporary Art Museum, TX; the Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, TX; San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art, CA; D21 Leipzig, Germany; Yerba Buena Center for Arts, CA; and the New Museum, NY. She has had solo shows at The Kitchen in New York City, MCA Chicago and Threewalls in Chicago; and Women & Their Work in Austin, TX. Her work has also been featured in such high profile festivals as Sundance and screened twice by demand at the prestigious Robert Flaherty Film Seminar Exhibition. In 1999, she was selected as one of Ten Directors to Watch by “Variety” magazine. Smith is the recipient of several grants and awards including a Creative Capital grant, the Rockefeller Media Arts Award, Chicago 3Arts Grant, and the Foundation for Contemporary Arts. Smith earned an MFA from the University of California, Los Angeles. She currently lives in Chicago while teaching at the Vermont College of Fine Art low-residency MFA program. More information:

About UVP 2014-15: ‘Celestial Navigation: a year into the afro future’

“Celestial Navigation”, a year-long program at UVP, explores the work of major established and emerging artists through an afrofuturist lens, including works by Isaac Julien, Sanford Biggers, Xaviera Simmons, Jeannette Ehlers, and Cauleen Smith. Artist talks, screenings, and a panel discussion in Spring 2014 will be included in the programming. Partner venues in Syracuse featuring cross-programmed exhibitions include Community Folk Art Center (CFAC), featuring Cristina de Middel’s “The Afronauts” and Light Work, featuring “Xaviera Simmons: Accumulations” in Winter 2015.


This exhibition was supported by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.