Carnegie Mellon University


wats:ON? Festival 2019

Photo from a 2010 wats:ON? Festival, black and white with a man surrounded by beams of light.

You and I, Horizontal by Anthony McCall, solid light film, installation view. Photo from 2010: VIRTUALITY wats:ON? Festival.

NOW. takes on the spirit of Activism, with artists and work tapping into the zeitgeist of our current climate to redirect culture.

This November 7–9, the 2019 wats:ON? Festival invites us to explore art as activism NOW. The artists use light, music, sound, architecture, art, spoken word and performance to evoke deep social and political questions. Read more about the artists and their performances.

The upcoming wats:ON Festival is offering a companion course for students to work directly with two festival artists: Jasiri X and Blak Rapp M.A.D.U.S.A. Students will collaborate with the artists to produce a music video for the artists' song "Speak No Evil" that will premiere at the festival on opening night. The wats:ON course is allowing students to work across artistic disciplines — behind and in front of the camera.

NOW's interdisciplinary spirit isn't new for the wats:ON Festival. Since 1997, each festival has aimed to celebrate the arts, architecture and design together in honor of the late Jill Watson, a professor in the School of Architecture who was pursuing a Master of Fine Arts degree when she perished in the crash of TWA Flight 800 in July 1996.

The wats:ON Festival is made possible through the love, generosity and support of Jill's family.

Headshot of Jasiri X.


THURSDAY \\ Artist talk and music performance
Reception 5:30PM @ CFA Great Hall
Music video premiere 6:30PM @ CFA Kresge Theatre
Artist talk and performance
6:30PM @ CFA Kresge Theatre

SATURDAY \\ Music performances
Reception 7:00PM @ CFA Great Hall
Performance 7:30PM @ CFA Great Hall

Art should move culture and thought forward, it should represent progress. It should be used in a positive manner to uplift and unify our communities.

Thursday, wats:ON 2019: NOW kicks off with the premiere of the music video produced in collaboration with the wats:ON CFA interdisciplinary course and artists Jasiri X and Blak Rapp M.A.D.U.S.A.

Jasiri X performs directly after the video screening, flowing freely between hip hop performance and critical dialogue about the social and political forces surrounding his work.

Saturday, Jasiri X, Blak Rapp M.A.D.U.S.A. and other artists from 1Hood Media close the festival with a series of performances in the CFA Great Hall.

Photo of Mendi + Keith Obadike.


FRIDAY \\ Sound-Light performance and artists talk
Book of Light 6:30PM @ CFA west facade
Reception 7:30PM @ CFA Great Hall
Artists talk 8:00PM @ CFA Kresge Theatre

ALL FESTIVAL \\ Sound installation
Anyanwu @ CFA Great Hall

One of our consistent goals has been to engage audiences in a dialogue about the codes that order our understanding of social place.

As expressed in an interview with The Burton Wire.

Friday night, Mendi + Keith Obadike emblazon the west facade of CFA in an explosion of light, imagery, and sound with a live performance, Book of Light.

During the festival, the Obadike's sound installation, Anyanwu, immerses all CFA faculty, staff, students and guests in a site-specific sound installation accompanied by ephemeral screened panels suspended from the vault of the Great Hall. The installation will be on exhibition mid-October through mid-November.

Headshot of Blak Rapp M.A.D.U.S.A.


THURSDAY \\ Music video premiere
Reception 5:30PM @ CFA Great Hall
 6:30PM @ CFA Kresge Theatre

SATURDAY \\ One-woman play and music performances
Memoirs of an Artivist 5:30PM @ CFA Kresge Theatre
Reception 7:00PM @ CFA Great Hall
Performances 7:30PM @ CFA Great Hall

Through spoken word and melodic lyricism this rapper, poet, activist and historian paints a vivid picture of her culture via social and political justice interwoven with spiritual inspiration.

Blak Rapp M.A.D.U.S.A. starts off the last day of NOW with a one-woman play, Memoirs of an Artivist. The play is a mesmerizing and provocative autobiographical drama contextualizing issues of race, gender, religion, activism, and mass incarceration through a hip hop lens. Memoirs of an Artivist is followed by a reception and a series of musical performances where she is joined by Jasiri X and other artists of 1Hood Media.

Blak Rapp M.A.D.U.S.A. is featured Thursday as a part of the music video premiere.

Photo of some of the artists of 1Hood Media.


SATURDAY \\ Music performances
Reception 7:00PM @ CFA Great Hall
Performances 7:30PM @ CFA Great Hall

1Hood Media is a collective of socially conscious artists and activists who utilize art as a means of raising awareness about social justice matters affecting people around the world.

1Hood Media artists close NOW with a series of musical performances, featuring Jasiri X and Blak Rapp M.A.D.U.S.A., who are also artists in the 1Hood Media collective.

1Hood Media is an intergenerational and intersectional community of artists from various disciplines, ideologies and belief systems. They band together to address violence within and against our community.