An Interview with Marc Bamuthi Joseph
Daniel Bernard Roumain

*NOTE: I just saw your email to repost our CR…I first posted this last week during the 24 hours and I guess mine got lost in the ether as well. I was wondering why no one else had responded yet…*

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To me it seems that Bamuthi’s work as a spoken-word artist absolutely informs his work as a curator, and maybe the reverse is true as well.

Although he comes across as lighthearted and approachable in the interview, we get the sense that he also takes his role as an influential artist and curator quite seriously and considers the impact each of his projects will have on the larger social or political climate. This is especially evident in the interview when he discusses the role and responsibility he views artists as having towards problems afflicting their communities. He notes that the New York Times changed the name of their “Arts & Leisure” section to just “Arts” and comments that this is because “there’s no time for play”. Although I don’t entirely agree with this viewpoint, I think that it’s possible that much of his success and impact have stemmed from this philosophy.

In MOVE, his commitment to addressing social issues is apparent and every phrase seems to be laced with layers of meaning and commentary. I had difficulty unpacking the meanings and underlying message behind the performance, in part because of his heavy usage of metaphor and wordplay and in part because I found myself listening more to the sound and rhythm of the words in contrast to the violin. However, even without digging deeper into the piece, I think it’s easy to see a connection between the themes in MOVE and the turbulent political climate today. Paired with the interview, it’s even clearer as Bamuthi openly discusses his views on the United States current leadership.

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