Wounded Galaxies festival to memorialize 1968

Austin Faulds • Jan. 24, 2018

The year is 1968, and the Soviet Union just invaded Czechoslovakia. Hey Jude and Mrs. Robinson are on the radio, while Planet of the Apes and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner are in theaters. Both Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy have been assassinated. The Winter Olympics are held in France, only months before more than 800,000 students, teachers and workers protest the country’s university system. The Fair Housing Act is signed in April. The Zodiac Killer initiates his unsolved murders in California. Uprisings spring in Poland, Germany, India and Pakistan. Between 300 to 400 students are massacred in Mexico City.

Jon Vickers, director of the IU Cinema, stands next to the 1916 Henderson Piano that will be burned in Dunn Meadow on Feb. 7. Piano Burning by Annea Lockwood is part of Wounded Galaxies conference and symposium. (Emma Knutson | The Media School)

“It was a global phenomenon,” Media School associate professor Joan Hawkins said.

Hawkins wishes to commemorate the legacy of this year through the event, Wounded Galaxies: 1968 – Beneath the Paving Stones, the Beach Festival and Symposium. According to the event’s website, the subtitle originates from the popular French phrase “Sous les pavés, la plage!” which was graffitied during the educational protests of that year.

Occurring from Feb. 6-11, Wounded Galaxies will feature film screenings, concerts, lectures and an academic symposium. The event is produced by the Burroughs Century, of which Hawkins is a member. The Media School is one of the event’s sponsors.

Wounded Galaxies also has a pre-conference festival, which began Jan. 8 with the opening of an art exhibition for the social revolutionist group the Situationists. Other famous artists who will have featured work are Rikki Ducornet and Ward Shelley. Shelley will give a lecture Feb. 7.

The Monroe County Public Library and the Buskirk-Chumley Theater are hosting film screenings during the pre-festival, and both the IU Libraries Moving Image Archive and the IU Cinema will host screenings during the official festival. Films including Night of the Living Dead, The Great Silence and Uptight! will be featured. There will even be a party dedicated to author William S. Burroughs on what would have been his 102nd birthday at The Blockhouse, 205 S. College Ave., on Feb. 5.

The film screenings at the IU Cinema will be curated by J. Hoberman, the Village Voice’s former senior film critic. He will give his own lecture Feb. 8 at the IU Cinema.

On Feb. 7, renowned New Zealand composer and artist Annea Lockwood will recreate her famous 1968 Piano Burning in Dunn Meadow. The piano in question is a century-old Henderson piano donated by Erica Musselwhite. The instrument itself is no longer capable of carrying a tune, thus making it unplayable. However, IU Cinema director Jon Vickers, who is currently in possession of the piano, said the flames will cause the strings to pop and make sound. The piano will be miked beforehand in order to amplify the sound.

“This will be its final concert, its final chance to express its voice,” Vickers said.

There will be other concerts featured during the festival, such as Ken Vandermark and Phillip Sudderberg at the Back Door, 205 S. College Ave., on Feb. 8. Jacobs School of Music students will perform pieces by Lockwood, Luciano Berio and Julius Eastman at Ford Hall on Feb. 9, and the Muttering Sickness will perform The Whole World is Watching at The Blockhouse on the following day.

In addition to public concerts, screenings and lectures, Wounded Galaxies will feature an academic conference consisting of panel discussions on topics ranging from “Reflections on the Forgotten Films of Global 1968” to “The Counter Culture, Surrealism and Cyberspace.”

Given the world’s current political climate, which is often compared to the latter half of the 1960s, Hawkins said a historically focused festival like Wounded Galaxies could be important for the future.

“We feel like we’re in a moment where, again, that kind of serendipity is needed, where people need to come together,” Hawkins said. “Not just to effect, say, discrete political change, but to effect discrete political changes that affect everything – art and politics and culture.”