In Une ligue d’un: Black Testament

Une ligue d’un: Black Testament
The Catacombs
May 5, 2023, to June 3, 2023

Renée Baker

In Une ligue d’un: Black Testament, composer, music director, and artist Renée Baker showcases a surrealist view of the possibilities of black artistry. 

This exhibition Une ligue d’un, which translates to “a league of one,” includes large paintings on paper, sculptures, and an experimental film that create unexpected and dramatic entries into the audio-visual arena. Having created a system of visualizing and interpreting musical information and scores, a system she calls CCL (Cipher Conduit Linguistics), there is no distinguishable decision between her visual and audio worlds. This technique uses semantic concepts and gestures of composition to influence the perception of an image as not just an image, but as partner to the chosen score sounds.

Baker’s devotion to recontextualizing boundaries within her work also contains a twist of social détournement, as she addresses the often less-than-honest portrayal of people, especially the lives of African Americans in the 1900s. Listening to and seeing new soundscapes gives the audience a different way to view “otherness,” enacting a form of social justice without overt protest and presenting positive narratives of cultural life without changing a frame.

Her unique juxtaposition of styles, rhythms, and moods creates new meanings in the listeners' relationship with sound art. Reinterpreting, reevaluating, and reimagining the merging of images and sound brings another level of analysis and appreciation. Nothing is easily packaged. Subtle ruptures between imagery and sound achieve an edge of experimentation that drives the images towards a narrative not controlled by either the viewer or the creator. Her intent is to convince the viewer’s mind to marry the two elements and encourage a flow that at first glance appears mismatched but that ultimately creates a comfortable dissonance that allows the viewer to take their interpretation to a new “anywhere” without losing sight of the historical sources that interrogate what lies beneath.

About Renée Baker

Renée Baker is a visual artist, film artist, composer, and recontextualist. She is the founding music director and conductor of the internationally acclaimed Chicago Modern Orchestra Project (CMOP). This polystylistic orchestral organization grew from the plums of classical music and jazz. A member of the world-renowned collective Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), Baker has received critical acclaim for her graphic score novels from performances in Berlin, Poland, London, Scotland, and as far-reaching as Vietnam.

Baker developed the Mantra Blue Free Orchestra (Chicago), PEK’ Contemporary Project (Berlin), and Twilight Struggles (Berlin) as well as being involved in over 20 cutting-edge new music ensembles. Baker was Principal Violist for 24 years of the acclaimed Chicago Sinfonietta. Her conducting language, CCL (Cipher Conduit Linguistics), is an advocate language for linguistic autonomy in sonic graphic scoring. She has composed over 2000 traditionally notated contemporary classical works for ensembles and has written scores for over 220 silent films, as well as crafted 100+ of her own experimental films. Her ability to embrace traditional compositions as well as various creative parameters in her work has led to commissions from the Chicago Sinfonietta, Berlin International Brass, PEK’ Contemporary Project, Joffrey Ballet Chamber Series, Shedd Aquarium, Adler Planetarium, among many others, and she serves as an Artistic Consultant for many classically oriented organizations.


"Art is Business"

Building upon Charles Gaines’s mon­u­men­tal work Mov­ing Chains on Gov­er­nors Island, Cre­ative Time and Gov­er­nors Island Arts present a day-long pub­lic pro­gram on Gov­er­nors Island on May 20th from 10 AM to 5PM. The Island will bring togeth­er an inter­dis­ci­pli­nary group of artists, schol­ars, and edu­ca­tors work­ing on strate­gies for abo­li­tion in art, law, edu­ca­tion, and polit­i­cal action. This event is free with reg­is­tra­tion. View the event schedule and register here→

On the occasion of Charles Gaines’s monumental public artwork Moving Chains, Creative Time and Governors Island Arts present a day-long public program on Governors Island bringing together an interdisciplinary group of artists, scholars, and educators working on strategies for abolition in art, law, education, and political action.

The day’s workshops, talks, presentations, and walking tour center on the possibilities and limitations of achieving abolition through the law. The contested, moving, and blurred lines between people and property persists today as one of the foundations of racial capitalism, the economic and structural afterlife of chattel slavery. As scholar, and panelist, Saidiya Hartman argues, while discussing the specters of freedom, the political and legal structure of liberty is a permutation of slavery—freedom can never be possessed, only shared. Moving Chains: Toward Abolition offers an opportunity to consider how freedom can be defined outside of the contours of property, considers past examples of movements using the law in the fight for freedom, and ultimately asks whether abolition and the law are compatible or not.

Organized by Diya Vij, Curator at Creative Time, and Che Gossett, scholar of abolition and contemporary Black art, for the session panels; and artist and educator Tiffany Lenoi Jones, for the drop-in workshops.

All events are free and open to the public. Capacity is limited, please register for each of the day’s events you plan to attend in advance. See ferry schedule to plan your trip on and off the island:



Grounding and Land Acknowledgement by Black Gotham Experience

Presentation by Tali Keren and Alex Strada, 28th Amendment Project

Abolition and the Law, Panelists: American Artist, Kameelah Janan Rasheed, and Albert Fox Cahn, moderated by Che Gossett

The panel “Abolition and the Law” brings together artists American Artist and Keemalah Janan Rasheed in conversation with lawyer Albert Fox Cahn, Founder and Executive Director of Surveillance Oversight Technology Project (S.T.O.P.), moderated by Che Gossett. Together, the panelists will discuss the intersection of art, law, surveillance, and abolition. How do redaction, bracketing, and constraint exist within the context of surveillance and the legal system? How might art become a vehicle for exposing, negotiating, and moving past the structure of the law and towards new possibilities for abolition?

Presentation by Sarah Abdelaziz, Executive Director, Abolitionist Teaching Network



Visit a selection of food trucks at Colonels Row outside the event or other Governors Island dining spots to purchase lunch. Guests are also welcome to pack their own lunch.

Black Gotham Experience Lunch Circle: Join Kamau Ware for a talk back on the history and ideas covered in the morning session.

28th Amendment Soap Box Installation: Visitors are invited to engage by listening to these sonic sculptures that build upon the history of soap boxes as sites of collective struggle and record their own additions to this work.



Drop into multigenerational artmaking workshops and gatherings to collectively imagine freedom while learning about the possibility, necessity, and stakes of teaching abolition today. This program is organized by Tiffany Lenoi Jones with Akiea “Ki” Gross and Noor Jones-Bey, grantees of the Abolitionist Teaching Network.



Presentation by artist Russell Craig, Right of Return

Architectures of Freedom, Panelists: Torkwase Dyson, Saidiya Hartman, and Rinaldo Walcott

Scholars Saidiya Hartman and Rinaldo Walcott will think alongside and in concert with artist Torkwase Dyson about how freedom might be actualized and spatialized, the places freedom inhabits and takes. What are the architectures and infrastructures of freedom? How might freedom be shared, rather than monetized, privatized and racialized as property? What is the role of art in making freedom(s) possible in the midst of slavery’s global social and aesthetic afterlives?

In Conversation: Charles Gaines and Christina Sharpe

Join artist Charles Gaines and scholar Christina Sharpe in an intimate conversation on Gaines’s monumental work Moving Chains through the lens of Sharpe’s groundbreaking framework of “Wake Work,” introduced in her influential book, In the Wake: On Blackness and Being (Duke University Press, 2016). The two will discuss aesthetic strategies to address race and power in order to reorient our ways of seeing and being and doing in the wake of slavery and the United States project.

5:00 & 5:30PM: Governors Island ferries depart for Manhattan

6:00PM: Last ferry to Manhattan departs


"Art is Business"

 “The Florin corridor is one of our City’s hidden gems, and I’m incredibly excited to see this continued investment in South Sacramento. In cooperation with community institutions like the Sojourner Truth Museum, Florin Square, and the Florin Road Partnership, we’re proud to continue building a vibrant, resilient, and authentic community through strong workforce programs, community events, and supporting our local businesses.”

The City of Sacramento is inviting Sacramentans to the Florin Road Community Beautification Project kick-off on April 8 in South Sacramento (2251 Florin Road).
The event, which runs from noon to 6 p.m., will include a community paint day with artists, music, food, informational booths, and educational games.

The beautification project is funded with a $1.2 million CalTrans Clean California grant. The project will improve a stretch of Florin Road from Tamoshanter Way to Franklin Boulevard through public art, beautification efforts, public outreach, and youth engagement.

“We want this stretch of Florin Road to reflect the vibrancy of the community it houses,” said the City’s Office of Arts and Culture Program Coordinator, April Breis. 

“We’re excited to celebrate the start of this large project and look forward to involving the community throughout the process.”
The event is free, and people can register for it here. It is hosted by the Sojourner Truth African Heritage Museum in partnership with the City of Sacramento Office of Arts + Culture and Department of Utilities, Florin Road Partnership, Florin Square Community Development Corporation, and SMUD.
The project will have more events, including a large public art installation.