Red Bull Music and Black Monument Ensemble
For an electrifying night at the Garfield Park Conservatory, the Black Monument Ensemble performed its singular, multi-sensory show, Black Monument Ensemble: Where Future Unfolds – Flowers for Chicago. An 80-minute musical and visual odyssey that investigated the circularity of history, the show was inspired by the church-rooted black activism of the ’60s and ’70s. The brainchild of visionary Chicago-based artist, educator, vocalist, musician and DJ, Damon Locks, the Black Monument Ensemble formed to address today’s pressing civil rights issues, and utilized samples and drum machines alongside vocals and percussion. Throughout the show the Ensemble projected Locks’ riveting visuals in tandem with the music. In our politically fraught times, Where Future Unfolds offers an escape from the present and began the work for the hurdles ahead.
After successfully working with Damon Locks on an exhibition project, Damon invited us onto another project that he was involved in for the Red Bull Music Festival in Chicago. At Damon’s request we were put in contact with Red Bull Media House to assist in documenting his performance. We worked with a team of photographers and videographers to capture behind the scenes, the audience’s interaction with products, branding and signage, and the production onstage.
This project was important to us because it represented and included some of Chicago’s most brilliant jazz composers, singers, and dancers that collectively produced a new and original interpretation of, along with a new perspective on the music that came out of the Civil Rights Movement. We felt that it was necessary to capture the emotions and harmony of each element of the performance to really put focus on the extraordinary talent and artistry involved.
The experience went smoothly because of clear communication and expectations. The process began with a photographer debrief that included workflow, scheduling, shot lists, post production, metadata requirements, and deliverables. The procedure was efficient and resulted in high quality images delivered by the beginning of the following day (within 10 hours) to be utilized for press releases, social media, and web content for the Red Bull Music brand.
While working with Red Bull we learned how to speed up our production workflow to meet the demands of a leading international brand with high standards and guidelines. We were able to utilize our unique perspective of storytelling through photography to provide beginning to end documentation of the evening that would resonate with Red Bull Music’s audience.
The still images that were captured at the Red Bull Music Festival were later utilized for Black Monument Ensemble’s Album that was released in June of 2019. The images were also used for the album’s press release and have been published in Afropunk, Chicago Reader, The Wire, Ghettoblaster, The Visualist, Pan African Music, and more. We continue to work with Black Monument Ensemble documenting their live performances.