The new year always brings possibilities for inspiration and fresh starts. This spring, UC Berkeley offers myriad ways to light up the new year with diverse selections in art, dance and music and enlighten the mind with lectures and readings. Here are a few highlights. See the Berkeley events calendar for a full list of events.
Big Birthday Bash
This year, Berkeley celebrates a milestone – its sesquicentennial or 150th anniversary. The party starts on March 23, Charter Day, and kicks off a year-long celebration of 150 Years of Light. The campus community rallies to welcome prospective students and their families to campus for Cal Day on April 21. Go Bears!
Visual Trip Across Decades
BAMPFA’s expansive exhibit Way Bay spans 200 years with nearly 200 artworks that showcase how the San Francisco Bay Area boomed with creativity long before the tech boom hit. Innovatively organized by poetic theme, the exhibition features art, film, poetry, performance documentation, and archival materials that reveals the depth and diversity of artists’ engagement with the Bay Area’s geographic, social and cultural landscape on exhibit now through June 3.
Spanish Harlem: El Barrio in the ’80s by Joseph Rodriguezhighlights Brooklyn-raised photographer Joseph Rodriguez’s body of work, which changed the face of documentary photography with its evocations of grit, elegy, celebration, pride and lurking cataclysm. The exhibit is on now through May 1 at the Reva and David Logan Documentary Photography Gallery in North Gate Hall. On March 16, Rodriguez will give a lecture at the Graduate School of Journalism. More details to come online.
Moved by Movement
The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater makes its annual return to Berkeley April 10-15. Under the direction of Robert Battle, the iconic dance company continues to nurture a new generation of choreographers steeped in the African-American experience. Its repertoire mixes seminal works like Ailey’s own Revelations and new work that engages with vital social movements — all with the power to transform. This performance is part of Cal Performances’ Berkeley RADICAL Joining Generations, which explores the work of four generations of African-American choreographers who have expanded the boundaries of contemporary dance.
Berkeley Dance Project 2018 features works by Bay Area choreographers Katie Faulkner and James Graham, as well as by Theater, Dance and Performance Studies student choreographers Madeline Aragon and Hillary Tang on February 15-24. Faulkner, award-winning founder of Little Seismic Dance Company, explores the physical experience of being a woman in the world. Graham, artistic director of the San Francisco-based James Graham Dance Company, creates a new work questioning experiences with gender, sexuality and identity.
A Global Soundtrack
NPR’s Christopher O’Riley, a pianist, hosts a live recording of his popular radio showFrom the Top on March 2. Broadcast on more than 200 stations nationwide to an audience of nearly half a million listeners, From the Top shares the stories and performances of pre-college classical musicians through a live-recorded concert presented in communities across the country. Local talent for the performance is being recruited in the Bay Area.
Kronos Quartet’s My Lai, a fully staged collaboration with composer Jonathan Berger and librettist Harriet Scott Chessman, explores the aftermath of a tragic episode in the Vietnam War from the perspective of the helicopter pilot who tried to intervene. Berger’s score blends Rinde Eckert’s voice with the strings of the Kronos Quartetaccompanied by traditional Vietnamese instruments played by Vân-Ánh Võ, and an electronic soundscape of helicopters, voices and snippets of American blues on March 4.
globalFEST celebrates the dawn of a New Golden Age of Latin Music with Las Cafeteras and Mariachi Flor de Toloache, two bilingual ensembles representing a new wave of Latin music emerging across the U.S. that fuses traditional styles with contemporary sounds on March 9.
NEA jazz master and 18-time Grammy winner Chick Corea joins the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra as a special guest in an evening of music from the pianist’s diverse songbook on March 22.
With Lights, Camera…Music! Six Decades of John Williams, the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra honors the career of 22-time Grammy winner Williams with selections from some of his most iconic Hollywood films scores, including Star Wars, Jaws, E.T., and the Indiana Jones and Harry Potter films on April 21.
Japanese taiko troupe TAO brings the centuries-old art form into the present with drumming, choreography and storytelling for Drum Heart on May 6. TAO has collaborated with award-winning Broadway director Amon Miyamoto (Pacific Overtures) to weave the movement of the drummers into a fantastical storyline about the redemptive power of music.
Connecting communities through comedy, computing, and more
Berkeley Talks hosts cultural commentator, radio and television host and comedian W. Kamau Bell on March 16. Combining humor with astute social commentary, the Berkeley resident and self-proclaimed “blerd” — or black nerd — is host of the Emmy-winning CNN series United Shades of America, where he travels the country, engaging diverse subcultures on contentious issues like immigration, white nationalism and gang violence. At this hometown appearance, Bell discusses his career, his podcast empire and his recently published first book, The Awkward Thoughts of W. Kamau Bell.
(Berkeley Arts + Design: ATC, Regents Lecture) Angela Davis, respected for her activism and scholarship over many decades, will speak on “Abolition Feminisms” on April 16 for the 2018 Regents Lecture. Davis has been involved in movements for social justice around the world and her work as an educator has always emphasized the importance of building communities of struggle for economic, racial and gender justice.
The Jefferson Memorial Lecture features “Defending Liberty in the Age of Trump: Lessons from the Front” with David Cole, ACLU national legal director, on February 22. Cole shares his unique perspective at the ACLU, which has been at the forefront of the defense of liberty in the age of Donald Trump.
(Berkeley Arts + Design: ATC) Nicholas Negroponte discusses “Connectivity as a Human Right” on February 5. Negroponte is co-founder of the MIT Media Lab, a pioneer in computer-aided design, author of bestseller Being Digital and gave the first TED talk in 1984 (and 13 since). In 2005, he founded the non-profit One Laptop per Child, which provided $1 billion worth of laptops for primary education in the developing world.
Taking a deep dig into data are two conferences from the School of Information. WiDS Berkeley: The Global Women in Data Science Conference brings together data scientists and professionals from around the globe to discuss the latest research and applications of data science on March 5. The DataEDGE Conference on April 24 will bring attendees up to speed on the data revolution.
Lunch Poems, the free series held on the first Thursday of each month, carries on. The spring session kicks off with TC Tolbert February 1 and continues with Rosa Alcalá on March 1 and Matthew Zapruder on April 5. The series finishes with one of the series’ liveliest events, the Student Reading on May 3.
Townsend Center Book Chats is a lunchtime series celebrating the intellectual and artistic endeavors of the UC Berkeley faculty, weekly January 31-April 25. Each Berkeley Book Chat features a faculty member engaged in conversation about a recently completed publication, performance or recording. The series highlights the extraordinary breadth and depth of Berkeley’s academic community. See a list of spring 2018 presenters online.
Feeding the Soul
The Berkeley Center for the Study of Religion is hosting three visitors this spring. On January 25, Academy of American Poets Chancellor Linda Gregerson gives a poetry reading and a lecture on Milton. On January 31, Dominic Erdozain lectures on theology and gun culture. And on March 12, Leigh Eric Schmidt will give the annual Lecture on Religion Tolerance on Are Atheists Tolerable? American Nonbelievers and Irreligious Freedom.
Foerster Lectures on the Immortality of the Soul presents Souls in Other Selves, and the Immortality of the Body with Marilyn Strathern, former William Wyse Professor of Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge, and Life Fellow, Girton College Cambridge, on April 17. Strathern takes participants to a place and time where all beings (including food plants) have souls and where the bodily basis of life is immortalized through cloning, commenting on the way present-day anthropology brings fresh illumination to what we thought we knew.
Learning from History
The Program in Critical Theory features Jacques Rancière, who will discuss Shifting Borders: Art, Politics and Ethics Today on February 20, and Saskia Sassen, professor of sociology at Columbia University, member of the Committee on Global Thought and author of Expulsions: Brutality and Complexity in the Global Economy, on March 13.
In Art in a State Seige: Bosch in Retrospect on March 15, this year’s Avenali Chair in the Humanities, Harvard’s Joseph Leo Koerner, examines Hieronymus Bosch’s “Garden of Delights,” approaching the painting as a representation of a world without history and law. Koerner also leads a symposium on “Art in a State of Siege” on March 16, and screens a preview of his documentary film, The Burning Child, at BAMPFA on March 17.
The voice of youth and the rallying cry of democracy was heard in Hong Kong and Taiwan during the protest movements that have come to be known as “Umbrella” and “Sunflower.” The Institute of East Asian Studies hosts a symposium “Sunflowers and Umbrellas: Social Movements, Expressive Practices, and Political Culture in Taiwan and Hong Kong” on March 16, which will include a screening of the film Yellowing and an exhibit of artifacts created for and about the events.
Tanner Lectures on Human Values highlights Michael Warner, Seymour H. Knox Professor of English at Yale University, discussing Environmental Care and the Infrastructure of Indifference March 20-22. The lectures grow out of research on environmental history and American culture, from the colonial period to the emergence of electrical modernity, and especially in the time of Thoreau.
The Past Exists: Virtuality and the Future of History is an interdisciplinary event bringing together scholars, students, technology innovators and cultural heritage workers in conversation about new methods and tools which are shaping their work April 4-6. The Berkeley Center for New Media will provide a venue for an international group to explore critical issues of new technologies. Featured speakers include Adam Lowe (Factum Arte), Christophe Girot (University of Zurich), Maurizio Forte (Duke), Bernard Cormier (V&A) and more.
The annual spring archaeology lecture features The Imperial Landscape of Assyria, from the Ground and Above with Jason Ur, professor at Harvard University, on April 5. Since 2012, a new Harvard University archaeological research project began in the Kurdistan Region of northern Iraq. The project is focused on the landscape impacts of the Neo-Assyrian empire —massive walled cities, enormous irrigation systems and a countryside filled with deportees from distant conquered lands.
A conference on “Disaster Management in East Asia” April 9 brings together practitioners with on-the-ground experience in crisis response, to relevant policymakers in East Asian countries, to academics with extensive research experience in institutional coordination, to review how best to prepare for the moment disaster strikes.
Closer to the Gender Gap wth Keystrokes
Finally, the annual Art + Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon challenges the gender gap in content on March 6. People are invited to drop in at any time for an all-day communal updating of Wikipedia entries. Trainings and tutorials will be provided for the beginner Wikipedian, along with reference materials and refreshments. Participants should bring a laptop, power cord and ideas for entries that need updating or creation. The editing-averse are encouraged to stop by to show support. People of all gender identities and expressions are welcome.