On Friday, March 22nd, Millersville University will present Rebirth of a Nation, by Paul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky at Biemesderfer Hall in the Winter Center. Tickets for the 7pm show are on sale at the Millersville box office (tickets will be free for the first 100 Millersville students–these are available in person at the SMC box office). Rebirth of a Nation will be presented as a film screening with musical score remixed live by DJ Spooky and an after-screening discussion. The film runs 1oo minutes.
Conceived as a reimagining of director D.W. Griffith’s infamously racist 1915 silent film The Birth of a Nation, DJ Spooky’s Rebirth of a Nation is a controversial and culturally significant project that examines how “exploitation and political corruption still haunt the world to this day, but in radically different forms.” Originally commissioned in 2004 by the Lincoln Center Festival, Spoleto Festival USA, Wiener Festwochen, and the Festival d’Automne à Paris, the project was Miller’s first large-scale multimedia performance piece, and has been performed around the world, from the Sydney Festival to the Museum of Modern Art and The Lincoln Center.
Rebirth of a Nation – Trailer
“In a certain sense what I’m doing is portraying the film as he intended it,” DJ Spooky says of his remix. “This is a film glorifying a horrible situation. And I think a modern sensibility is something where people will look at this and go like ‘Oh, I can’t believe this, I don’t relate to it, I don’t think this is right, what does he mean?’ So it’s not letting him off the hook so much as presenting the film and actually having it fall in on itself.”
Miller takes Griffith’s original work and applies a “DJ re-mix.” Using his skills as a DJ to mash music and film techniques, he recontextualizes and deconstructs Griffith’s film and places it in a moral framework, drawing striking parallels between socio-political conflicts in America during Griffith’s era, the time of the American Civil War (when Birth of a Nation is set), and today. Using his artistry to comment on Griffith’s film’s portrayal of white supremacy and its positive portrayal of the Ku Klux Klan, Miller’s work engages audiences in themes of civil rights and freedom, seen through the lens of DJ Spooky’s unique art of remixing.
DJ Spooky’s “Rebirth of a Nation”
An excerpt from DJ Spooky’s Rebirth of a Nation
Probably most well-known under his constructed persona as DJ Spooky That Subliminal Kid, Paul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky has recorded music and collaborated with a wide variety of musicians and composers, among them Iannis Xenakis, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Kronos Quartet, Pierre Boulez, Steve Reich, Yoko Ono, Thurston Moore and many others. Miller was the first Artist in Residence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where he premiered his work “A Civil War Symphony” in 2013. In 2014, Miller was named a National Geographic Emerging Explorer, an honor recognizing visionaries at the forefront of global problem solving. Miller is the 2017-2018 recipient of The Hewlett 50 Arts Commission Award to support his new work “QUANTOPIA: The Evolution of the Internet,” a multimedia performance and an installation based on the history and evolution of the internet, which premiered at San Francisco’s YBCA in January 2019. Recent works include “Phantom Dancehall” with premier reggae label VP Records and his first blockchain album “The Invisible Hand” commissioned by SingularDTV.
Griffith’s original film features a character, Representative Stoneman (pictured above to the right of Lincoln), based on local US Representative Thaddeus Stevens, who lived and practiced law in Lancaster. Stevens was an advocate of the equality of men and the 14th Amendment, which had its 150th anniversary last year (also the 150th anniversary of Stevens’ death). Stevens is buried downtown in the cemetery on Chestnut Street, the only place that would allow people of different skin colors to be buried together. His epitaph reads:
I repose in this quiet and secluded spot,
Not from any natural preference for solitude
But, finding other Cemeteries limited as to Race
by Charter Rules,
I have chosen this that I might illustrate in my death
The Principles which I advocated through a long life:
EQUALITY OF MAN BEFORE HIS CREATOR.
If you are in downtown Lancaster, you should visit the cemetery to learn more about this leader in racial justice.
For more information, see https://www.sozoartists.com/djspooky
Free tickets for students are available at the box office in the Student Memorial Center.
Paid tickets are available at https://bit.ly/2H0bNeR through the MU Box Office.
This event is sponsored by the Frederick Douglass Black Culture Celebration, MIllersville University Department of English, The President’s Commission on Cultural Diversity and Inclusion, The School of Social Work’s Learning Institute, and the Robert S. & Sue Walker Center for Civic Responsibility and Leadership.