Steffani Jemison & Justin Hicks (Mikrokosmos)
Another time, this time, one time


Steffani Jemison & Justin Hicks (Mikrokosmos), Another time, this time, one time (2020), Excerpt. 

Formed in 2016 as the collaborative platform of composer Justin Hicks and artist Steffani Jemison, Mikrokosmos mines the history of Black music. This ongoing project has manifested in many forms: workshop, study session, concert, listening session, book, prompt, score. The exhibition at CCA Berlin presents two related compositions inspired by Gil Scott-Heron’s  ambitious songbook. Another time, this time, one time (Aaliyah, Barbara, Brandy, Chaka, David, Erykah, Gil, Lionel, Loleatta, Mariah, Marvin, Stevie) tracks a small group of melismatic* gestures across bodies and time; it is a search for the "mother run." Another time, this time, one time, the first Mikrokosmos LP, uses Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson’s “We Almost Lost Detroit” (1977) as the raw material for R&B songwriting. Like a game in which new words are formed from existing letters, these live compositions and recompositions take the form of musical studies, samples, and improvisations. Jemison and Hicks reflect upon a wide range of subjects, including Scott-Heron’s biography, police violence in the United States, and the nuclear catastrophe that threatened the city of Detroit in 1966.

*Melisma (Greek: lit. 'song'; from melos, 'song, melody') is the singing of a single syllable of text while moving between several different notes in succession. Music sung in this style is referred to as melismatic. An informal term for melisma is a vocal run.

Steffani Jemison & Justin Hicks' ​Another time, this time, one time is part of CCA Berlin's Stirring Up Trouble, a program unfolding until the end of June, and which aims to host, restage, and think alongside four distinct artistic positions that foreground acts of listening and their manifold potentialities. Through their practices, invited artists engage listening as a method of witnessing unseeable formations of violence (Lawrence Abu Hamdan); an invitation to inhabit tropical geographies otherwise (Kent Chan); an everyday practice of place-making and communitarian belonging (Black Obsidian Sound System); and a regenerative archival portal into shared inheritances and histories of struggle (Steffani Jemison and Justin Hicks). By tuning in to organized sounds, accidental leaks, and enforced silences, they conceive modes of aesthetic experience that challenge common perceptions of artmaking, and trace roadmaps to resonant imaginaries.

Stirring Up Trouble is generously supported by the foundation Between Bridges.


Steffani Jemison & Justin Hicks (Mikrokosmos), Another time, this time, one time, Installation views, CCA Berlin, 2022. Photos: Diana Pfammatter

Justin Hicks is a multidisciplinary artist and performer who uses music and sound to investigate themes of presence, identity, and value. His work has been featured at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Performance Space New York, The Public Theater, JACK, National Black Theatre, The Bushwick Starr, MoMA, Dixon Place, festival Steirischer Herbst (Graz, Austria), Western Front Society (Vancouver, BC), MASS MoCA, The Whitney Museum of American Art,  Nottingham Contemporary (Nottingham, UK), The Albertinum - SKD (Dresden, DE),  The Highline, and The John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts among others. Hicks has collaborated with notable visual artists, musicians, and theater-makers including Abigail DeVille, Charlotte Brathwaite, Kaneza Schaal, Meshell Ndegeocello, Cauleen Smith, Helga Davis, and Ayesha Jordan. He was the Drama Desk-nominated composer for Mlima’s Tale by Lynn Nottage (The Public Theater 2018 dir. Jo Bonney). His practice with artist Steffani Jemison, Mikrokosmos, has deployed commissioned performances and exhibitions internationally.  Hicks was a member of Kara Walker’s 6-8 Months Space and holds a culinary diploma from ICE in New York City.  He was born in Cincinnati, OH, and is based in the Bronx, NY.

Steffani Jemison was born in Berkeley, California and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. Her work has been the subject of solo exhibitions and special projects at JOAN Los Angeles (2022), Contemporary Art Center Cincinnati (2021), the Everson Museum (2021), the Stedelijk Museum (2019), Nottingham Contemporary (2018), Jeu de Paume and CAPC Bordeaux (both 2017), MoMA, New York (2015), RISD Museum, Providence (2015), and LAXART, Los Angeles (2013) among others. Her work has been included in numerous group exhibitions, including the Guggenheim Museum (2021), the Whitney Biennial, New York (2019), the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (2019), and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia (2017). It is in numerous public collections, including the Guggenheim Museum, the Hirshhorn Museum, the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Brooklyn Museum, the Whitney Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, the San Jose Museum of Art, the Albright-Knox Museum, the Stedelijk Museum, and others. Jemison currently lives and works in Brooklyn and is an Associate Professor at Rutgers University Mason Gross School of the Arts.