from the Columbia College website:
March 12, 13 & 14 at 8:00 p.m., The Dance Center of Columbia College presents “shattering dance/theater”(The New York Times). Named after a Portugese expression, Saudade is an ode to the idea of “bittersweet,” the single moment when the greatest joy and agony are experienced together. Set to Portugese Fado music and grounded in folklore, historical fact and personal experience, Saudade is a mosaic of character monologues, mixing world dance with stories of disenfranchised southern African Americans in a deeply personal statement about modern times. With equal parts wild humor and grit, Saudade is performed by Roussève and a distinguished cast of six dancers [known as REALITY], including practitioners of South Asian, Indonesian, West African and postmodern dance forms.
While “Saudade” means “bittersweet longing for what has gone”, “Chega de Saudade” (alternately), is roughly translated to mean “No More Blues”. “Chega de Saudade” is also a Brasilian popular song performed by João Gilberto (below).
Vai minha tristeza
E diz a ela
Que sem ela não pode ser
Diz-lhe numa prece
Que ela regresse
Porque eu não posso mais sofrer
“Go on, my sadness
And tell her
That without her it cannot be
Tell her in a prayer
To come back to me
Because I cannot suffer anymore”
Michael Abramson: Pulse of the Night.
all photos by Michael L. Abramson
What goes on at small clubs is ephemeral by nature: society created and dismantled night after night. A delicate hierarchy composed of drifters, dreamers, and those simply longing to escape. In the mid 1970s, a young white student, Michael Abramson, worked his way into the world of largely black South Side Chicago clubs. He brought his camera along for the ride, capturing images that otherwise would’ve vanished like smoke from a languishing cigarette.
The photos were taken at famous spots, such as Perv’s House (owned by Pervis Staples of the Staple Singers fame), the Patio Lounge, and Pepper’s Hideout. These clubs hosted live music that was a heady mix of blues, funk, and soul by artists like Bobby Rush, Hi-Fi White, Little Mac Simmons, and much more. The current South Side Chicago club scene (in terms of live, homegrown entertainment) is a shell of its former self. That fact makes these photos that much more valuable.
Currently, dozens of Abramson’s photos from this period are on display through Columbia College’s Museum of Contemporary Photography. According to the Museum, “this work earned Abramson a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1978 and launched his successful career as a portraiture photographer and photojournalist. Abramson’s photographs can be found in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Chicago History Museum, the Milwaukee Art Museum, Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, and the California Museum of Photography.”
These photos of grit and gold lamé, born amidst midnight debauchery, are displayed between reference materials at the Columbia College Library. The juxtaposition is not lost on me. Despite their stoic surroundings, they simply hum with electricity.
The Michael L. Abramson: Pulse of the Night exhibition is located on the second floor of the Columbia College Chicago Library, 624 S. Michigan Avenue. It is on display until December 19th, 2014.
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