The Lab

The Lab is a nonprofit experimental art and performance space located in the Mission District of San Francisco.

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Darius James and Val Jeanty

7:00 pm doors / 7:30pm show
Free admission
Presented in collaboration with The Poetry Center and supported by the Walter & Elise Haas Fund 

Darius James (author of Negrophobia: An Urban Parable and That’s Blaxploitation!; writer and on-screen narrator in documentary film The United States of Hoodoo) joins with Haitian electronic music composer/percussionist/turntablist Val Jeanty (aka Val-Inc) for the West Coast premier of their collaborative performance project.

“Our work is Spiritual so it will take on a form and name as we progress.” Val Jeanty

“Val and I agreed early on it was much more important to develop the work before we gave a name to our project. Though we have been working on this for a few years, only recently have we begun defining what it is. The only thing we knew, it was spoken-word married to ritual drumming and it was based in an authentic expression of Voodoo. Voodoo is very simple. It is spirit and the interaction with spirits. Voodoo has a bad rep because 1) the French are embarrassed they lost the jewel of their colonial empire to ‘ignorant savages’ (see: Hayti: Or, the Black Republic); 2) An alcoholic journalist in the late ’20s kickstarting present-day disinformation (see: The Magic Island by Wm. Seabrook). The truth is its spiritual reality and beauty is no different from Hinduism or Tibetan Buddhism (it just might take a dead chicken or two to get there). What Val and I have observed is that the loa are readapting and changing (the old cycle of death and rebirth of the gods). We reflect that change.” Darius James

“Darius James is a great writer.” Kathy Acker

“I read Negrophobia when I was still in grad school…. It was one of those good but rare occasions when I thought that there might be one other person in the world who got what I was doing.” Kara Walker
Darius James, writer, lecturer and spoken-word performance artist, is author of five books (the novel Negrophobia: An Urban Parable, reissued 2019 by New York Review of Books Classics; That's Blaxploitation! Roots of the Baadasssss 'Tude (Rated X by an All-Whyte Jury); and Fever Water, limited edition, illustrations by Tân Khánh Cao). After two decades as a freelance writer in New York City, in 1998 James left the US for Berlin, where he worked as a writer, radio host, and theater director, and appeared on television and in film. The documentary The United States of Hoodoo (2012) features James as co-writer and on-screen narrator, following the traces of New World African religion across the US. He wrote for The Village Voice, Vibe, and Spin; penned liner notes for Richard Pryor’s LPs and covered Sun Ra’s anthemic “Nuclear War” in German; interviewed artist Kara Walker (“I Hate Being Lion Fodder,” and record label founder-producer Ahmet Ertegun for What I Say: The History of Atlantic Records. Darius James makes his home today in Hamden, Connecticut.

Val Jeanty, aka Val-Inc (@valjeanty), Haitian SoundChemist, VodouElectro composer and educator, lives and works in New York City. Born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, the great-grand niece of 19th century Haitian composer Occide Jeanty and granddaughter of a Mambo (Vodou) priestess, Jeanty incorporates her musical and spiritual traditions into a fusion of electronics and African Vodou rhythms. She has worked with an array of artists: as turntablist/composer/sound sampler with Steve Coleman and Yosvany Terry; as percussionist with Tracie D. Morris and Douglas Kearney; and as recording engineer with Anthony Braxton, Wadada Leo Smith, Henry Threadgill, and the late Gerri Allen. Her Afro-Electronica performance-installations have been showcased in New York City at the Whitney Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and the Village Vanguard, and internationally at SaalFelden Music Festival in Austria, Stanser Musiktage in Switzerland, Jazz à la Villette in France, and the Biennale Di Venezia Museum in Italy. Val Jeanty lives in Brooklyn. Audio at Soundcloud:   

Related events:

In Common Writers Series
Darius James and Val Jeanty
workshop performance and conversation
Thursday April 18
7:00 pm @ The Poetry Center
Humanities 512, SFSU, free and open to the public
supported by the Walter & Elise Haas Fund

In Common Writers Series
Darius James
solo reading from Negrophobia
Sunday April 21
7:00 pm @ City Lights Books
261 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco
free and open to the public
supported by the Walter & Elise Haas Fund

Darius and Val.jpg
Earlier Event: April 17
Damon & Naomi
Later Event: April 19
Mic at Midnight