"Immigration, the Arts, and the Archive": an artists' conversation with Lisa Schlesinger and John Rapson

Friday, March 2, 2018 - 4:15pm to 5:30pm
Room A Iowa City Public Library
123 South Linn Street
Iowa City, IA 52240

Jazz musician John Rapson and playwright Lisa Schlesinger have each worked with fellow artists and performers to capture the pain, possibility, and complex movements and emotions of immigrants' experience through artistic media. Rapson's story is based on a fantastical but true story about a young Afghan who left home near the Khyber Pass, wandered through India, and ended up eventually in Sheridan, Wyoming, selling tamales. From the initial story published in The New Yorker, Rapson created a thirteen-movement work about immigration, citizenship, and home. His music includes lilting Western ballads, gentle Mexican waltzes, folk melodies from the East, evocative tone poems, and raucous ragtime that complement period photographs. In what they call a "film opera," Lisa Schlesinger, a Russian filmmaker, and a French theatre director created Iphigenia at Lesvos: Story of a Refugee, the culminating performance piece of The Iphigenia Project, a multiyear, trans-media collaboration to focus attention on the contemporary plight of refugees. After showing clips of these performances, Rapson and Schlesinger will engage in a conversation about the fascinating ways music, theatre, and visual art can present moving, embodied archives of human experience.

John Rapson is a composer, trombonist, and recording artist for MoMu Records, Music and Arts, Sound Aspects, and Nine Winds. His work mixes ethnic and experimental elements with more conventional jazz forms. He has been a professor of music at the University of Iowa since 1993.

Lisa Schlesinger is an associate professor of theatre arts at the University of Iowa. Her plays include Celestial Bodies, Wal-martyrs, Same Egg, Manny and Chicken, Rock Ends Ahead, The Bones of Danny Winston, and Twenty-One Positions.

This event is part of the 2018 Provost's Global Forum and Obermann Humanities Symposium, Against Amnesia: Archives, Evidence, and Social Justice, in which practicing archivists, engaged scholars, and interdisciplinary artists will share projects from guerrilla archiving of climate data to mining corporate records for evidence of organized violence.

The Provost's Global Forum and Obermann Humanities Symposium is co-sponsored by the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies, the Ida Beam Visiting Professorships Program, the Provost’s Global Forum International Programs grant, the UI Center for Human Rights, Digital Bridges for Humanistic Inquiry, the UI School of Music, UI Libraries-Special Collections, the UI Department of History, and the UI Department of Cinematic Arts.