Projects > Sanctuary Studies (2017)

Sanctuary Studies
45 mins

Sanctuary Studies is an experimental collaborative performance by Zoe Cohen, Dexter Moore, and Dan Blacksberg, presented at the Rotunda in West Philadelphia on February 26, 2017.

The music for this piece consists of improvisation on a number of musical references that Dan and Dexter each bring from their Jewish and Gospel musical traditions. The visuals consist of a live video feed projection of Zoë manipulating and “building” with paper fragments collected from her visual art studio practice. The intention for this piece is to layer the sounds of Jewish and Black Christian religious experience, along with imagery that symbolically and poetically refers to the past and present successes and struggles of the Jewish and Black communities.

Song selections in this performance include:
Jewish: Dveykus, Vehu Rachum, Ozi V’Hadar
Gospel: Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, Be Grateful

Zoë Cohen’s Shul/Church Project is an ongoing visual and audio exploration of buildings that were built as Synagogues in US cities in the early 20th century, that were either demolished, or are now in use by African-American Churches. Previous works include watercolor paintings, cut-paper works, small paper sculptures, audio installations, and short video works. This is the first performance piece included in this project.

Zoë’s intention for the Shul/Church Project is to encourage curiosity and insight into the history, current reality, and potential for connection between Jewish and Black communities. The work in this project acknowledges both the anti-Semitism and racism that Jewish and Black communities have struggled with, and the beauty and strength of the congregations that share the history of these buildings and neighborhoods.

Dexter Moore (organ) is a South Philly native, and grew up in a musical family. Dexter’s initial exposure to music began in the church. Dexter has toured in Europe as well as throughout the USA and has been privileged to play behind industry heavy-hitters in both Gospel and secular music. As a sought-after producer and musician in the Philadelphia and South Jersey areas, Dexter has contributed his keyboard and production skills to several CDs released by local artists.

Dan Blacksberg (Trombone) performs in the traditions of avant-garde jazz, modern classical music, improvised music, and klezmer. A 2012 Pew Fellow in the Arts, the Philadelphia native has made a name for himself as a leader with projects such as the Daniel Blacksberg Trio, Hasidic doom metal band Deveykus, and as a co-leader of new music duo Archer Spade. Dan is also one of the few musicians in the world who performs and teaches traditional klezmer on the trombone. He has a Bachelors of Music from the New England Conservatory of Music.