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Brontez Purnell collaborating with The Lab

Award: $40,000 Media Arts Grant awarded in 2015

To be completed: April 2017

Brontez Purnell is collaborating with The Lab to create He Moved Swiftly but Gently…the Life and Times of Ed Mock, a film project exploring the legacy of the late San Francisco postmodern choreographer. Ed Mock died in 1986 at the height of the AIDS epidemic, but his experimental dance work left a lasting mark on the San Francisco dance/performance art scene. Purnell and a team of artists will re-create Mock’s work and life through archival research, interviews, choreographic interpretations, music, and film.

Purnell’s film intends to reveal Mock’s story through conversations with his colleagues, students, and the current generation of Bay Area artists — taking a particular look at the black avant-garde and the daily lives of gay black men. He will write, choreograph, produce, and direct the film with his longtime film collaborator Travis Mathews. Choreographers Amara Tabor Smith, Rashad Pridgen, and Rotimi Agbabiaka will interpret three Ed Mock pieces for camera. As the project culminates in 2017, Purnell and The Lab’s director, Dena Beard, will implement a series of events at the Lab, including presentations that mix live performances with film screenings.

The Lab, a catalyst for artistic experimentation, is celebrated for its commitment to avant-garde programming in visual, sonic, and performance art. Brotez Purnell is an Oakland-based black gay filmmaker, musician, dancer, and writer who moved from Alabama to the Bay Area at age 19. He launched Brontez Purnell Dance Company in 2009 and began producing and directing music videos for his band in 2008. He was featured in a KQED article and podcast in October 2015.