Mao Meets Muddy

The Feldstein Immersion Room, the Elmer Holmes Bobst Library at NYU
70 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012
Tuesday, April 25, 6:30 pm

Free with RSVP. (Non-NYU must email

Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI) and the Colloquium for Unpopular Culture co-present this screening of Anthony Ramos’s Mao Meets Muddy (1989), considered by the artist to be his final video before shifting his emphasis to painting. In this rarely-screened video, Ramos captures a trip to Beijing made with his close friend and collaborator, painter Frederick J. Brown, who was mounting a retrospective of his work at the National Museum of China in 1988—considered to be the first solo exhibition of a Western artist in China post-Cultural Revolution. Throughout the footage, Ramos reflects on Sino-American relations, and documents cultural collisions including his and Brown’s interactions with local children and a Chinese man breakdancing in front of Brown’s portrait of Bessie Smith. Any air of jubilant possibility is undercut by the video’s setting of Tiananmen Square; in a postlude, Ramos videotapes himself tuning into the media coverage of the 1989 massacre the following year.

Ramos will be joined by artist and curator Bentley Brown, son of Frederick J. Brown, for a discussion on this video and Ramos and Frederick Brown’s long-standing collaboration. Ramos began documenting the painter’s process in the mid-’70s with Portrait of an Artist (1975), showing Brown in his 120 Wooster Street studio loft set to music by Anthony Braxton. Ramos was a part of a revolving cast of artists, poets, and musicians involved in Brown’s space, which regularly hosted gatherings and performances. Ramos continued to tape the painter’s practice even after his official retirement as a “video artist,” capturing the loft’s final performance in 1991 by Felipe Luciano, and Brown’s post-New York studio in Arizona.

Part of Nor Was This All By Any Means: A Career-Spanning Series with Anthony Ramos

Bentley Brown is a multidisciplinary artist, curator, doctoral candidate at The Institute of Fine Arts, NYU, and adjunct professor of Art History at Fordham University. Based in the Bronx, NY and Phoenix, AZ, Brown's research at the Institute of Fine Arts explores the pioneering role of Black artists and Black creative spaces within New York City’s contemporary art movements of the late 1960s through the mid-1980s. In his artistic practice, inspired by African American cultural production, abstract and figurative expressionist approaches to the artistic process and the desert landscape of his native Phoenix, Brown uses the mediums of canvas, found objects, photo-collage and film to to explore themes of Black identity, cosmology, and American interculturalism.