MOCA Store is pleased to announce, in association with Hat & Beard Press, an evening in celebration of the recent publication Meditations on Crime by Harper Simon. Join us for a screening of the short film, Meditations on Crime, a conversation with editors Harper Simon and Jonah Freeman, moderated by Hat & Beard Editor and Publisher J.C. Gabel, followed by a book signing.
“Everyone is fascinated by crime,” says Simon. “When you look at the history of song, romantic love songs may be the dominant mode of songwriting, but second would probably be songs involving crime—murder ballads for one. Crime is a major theme in all songwriting.”
Simon offers a new and expansive contribution to this legacy with Meditations on Crime, an ambitious multi-media project that includes an album he produced of musical collaborations with a sweeping range of contributors, including Julia Holter, Gang Gang Dance, King Khan, and the Sun Ra Arkestra, and a book he edited featuring essays by such notables as Miranda July, Hooman Majd, and Jerry Stahl, alongside artwork from giants like Cindy Sherman, Tracey Emin, Julian Schnabel, and Raymond Pettibon.
The songs were developed in a variety of ways: sometimes Simon sent his collaborators guitar tracks or demos he was working on and had them write over them, sometimes he collaborated on lyrics.
For the book, Simon points to “On Crime,” the essay by Nigerian novelist and poet Ben Okri, as a central piece. “It almost felt like an introduction because it was so philosophical,” he says. “It set the tone. The book started to become less political and more interesting.”
Simon was committed to including visual art that investigated the idea of crime, so he enlisted his friend Jonah Freeman, from the art team Freeman-Lowe, as a co-curator.
Meditations on Crime is already expanding into other areas, as Simon and Freeman are completing a short film based on Okri’s essay. The 28-minute film, also titled Meditations on Crime, was produced by Jonah Freeman and Harper Simon to coincide with the release of the book/album package. It uses Simon’s music and excerpts from Ben Okri’s essay as an armature for a kaleidoscopic cinematic collage of found and original footage. Acclaimed actress Katherine Waterson narrates the film which, while touching upon a broad spectrum of crime, finds its focus in the prison system and all its contradictions.
Harper Simon is a writer and musician who lives in Los Angeles. Simon is an executive producer on the upcoming feature film Pavements directed by Alex Ross Perry, about the seminal '90s band Pavement, along with Vice and Rick Yorn. He is also a contributing writer for Airmail, Spin, Purple Magazine and the L.A. Review of Books.
Jonah Freeman is visual artist and filmmaker who lives and works in New York, NY. His work, while grounded in the filmmaking process, has manifested in a variety of forms including painting, sculpture, and large-scale installations. The central theme of his practice is the odysseys of the constructed world and the resulting social and psychological effects. He has exhibited in museums, galleries and biennials worldwide including The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Deitch Projects, NYC/LA, The Centre Pompidou, Paris, MOMA/PS 1 NYC, Marlborough Gallery, NYC/London, among others. His films have screened in numerous film festivals including The International Film Festival Rotterdam, l and The Rome International Film Festival.He frequently collaborates with artist Justin Lowe.
J.C. Gabel began his career in publishing at the age of 19 with Stop Smiling, “The Magazine for High-Minded Lowlifes,” which grew into it into a full-color glossy featuring timeless themes, original stories, and interviews you couldn’t read anywhere else, before moving into book full time working for Taschen, Phaidon, and Chronicle as an contributing editor. From 2005 to 2015, Gabel was also a regular contributor to the Wall Street Journal, Playboy, Bookforum, LA Times, New York Times, and Wallpaper. In 2016, Gabel founded Hat & Beard Press with the goal of finding a more artist-friendly way of producing and selling books in the 21st Century. H&B has since published over 75 books.
Saturday, Jul 8, 2023 4pm
Meditations on Crime
Book and Vinyl Launch, Film Screening, and Conversation with Jonah Freeman and Harper Simon
MOCA Store is pleased to announce, in association with Hat & Beard Press, an evening in celebration of the recent publication Meditations on Crime by Harper Simon. Join us for a screening of the short film, Meditations on Crime, a conversation with editors Harper Simon and Jonah Freeman, moderated by Hat & Beard Editor and Publisher J.C. Gabel, followed by a book signing. “Everyone is fascinated by crime,” says Simon. “When you look at the history of song, romantic love songs m…