Image: Elissa Blount Moorhead And Bradford Young. Back and Song (video still). 2019. Courtesy of the artists.

Elissa Blount Moorhead and Bradford Young: Back and Song


This meditative four-channel film and art installation reflects on the pursuit of health and well-being at the root of how life, breath, joy, and pain manifest in black experience from cradle to grave. Back and Song considers the labor and care provided by generations of black healers—doctors, nurses, midwives, morticians, therapists, and health aides—and their histories of contribution to and resistance from the flawed and discriminatory structures of Western medicine. Working with archivists from around the world, Moorhead and Young synthesized images of quotidian black family life into a time-based archive of expression. Paired with new footage, archival compilations reflect on how music, movement, sound therapy, dance, rest, and meditation are brought together as a spectrum of individual and communal pursuits.

Commissioned by the Philadelphia Contemporary and Thomas Jefferson University in 2019, the work will be newly installed in Baltimore to explore its resonances with the city that both artists have chosen to make their home

Curated by Cecilia Wichmann, Associate Curator of Contemporary Art