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Event Details

Fri, June 15, 2018

21:00 – 22:00

Villa La Pietra
Via Bolognese, 120
50139 Firenze, Italia

Presentation and discussion of Whistle Down the Wind, a Visual Album of Joan Baez. With Rick Litvin, Producer and Deborah Willis, Director of Civil War. With live performances by Choreographer and Dancer Djassi Johnson.

The Joan Baez Project is a visual album of 10 music videos, conceived and produced by Rick Litvin (Associate Arts Professor) in support of the 2018 release of Joan Baez’s final studio recording, Whistle Down the Wind. The videos were created by five Tisch faculty and five Tisch alumni in a collaborative exchange of unique artistic perspectives which visually interpret the songs as recorded by Joan Baez. The album features songs by Tom Waits, Joe Henry, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Josh Ritter, Zoe Mulford and Eliza Gilkyson. The first released video, The President Sang Amazing Grace (Jeff Scher, faculty UGFTV) premiered in The Atlantic Selects category on The Atlantic. Deb Willis’ (Chair, Dept. of Photo and Imaging) version of the Civil War, featuring professional dancer and choreographer Djassi Johnson, was profiled and featured in The Smithsonian.

Perfomance and conversation

Featured Biographies

Rick Litvin


Rick Litvin is a filmmaker, songwriter, photographer and educator.  His work has screened at the Museum of Modern Art, on VH-1 of MTV Networks, and has been featured on NPR’s All Things ConsideredWeekend EditionMorning EditionPublic Radio InternationalThe BBCCBS, as well as being distributed internationally.  Rick has generated and directed original cable television program content in collaboration with The 3M Corporation and Time Warner, and has worked in the music industry as a songwriter on seven Red House Records releases by Lucy Kaplansky (11, 500,000 Spotify hits for her recording of, “More Than This.”). Rick is currently producing 10 music videos for Joan Baez’s upcoming 2018 release, “Whistle Down the Wind” on Proper Records/Razor and Tie. The first video, “The President Sang Amazing Grace” premiered on The Atlantic (distinguished by “The Atlantic Selects” category) . The second video, “Civil War”(directed by Deb Willis) was premiered/featured on the Smithsonian Magazine Website. He directed Shawn Colvin’s Grammy Award winning Sony Records release, “Steady On,” and he has directed or co-produced over 175 music videos, co-authored a segment of Amos Poe’s feature film/installation “Empire II” and additional songwriting work that has been featured on network television (NBC, CBS, PBS) including, “Guilty as Sin” which was included on NBC’s hit television series “Ed.” He directed the Kickstarter launch video (Kickstarter Staff Pick) for the musical group The Pine Hill Project’s release, Tomorrow You’re Going, and directed the band’s first music video of the Gillian Welch song, “Wichita,” which was profiled in the international online magazine of popular culture, PopMatters. As an educator, he teaches The Language of Film, Advanced Production, Sight and Sound Filmmaking, Intermediate Narrative and has also taught Making the Documentary in Dublin, Ireland and is responsible for creating a range of innovative new courses including The Summer High School Filmmakers Workshop, Short Commercial Forms, Young Filmmakers Workshop with NYU Abu Dhabi/Image Nation, First Person Narrative and works with a variety of New York City public high schools and The Ghetto Film School (Los Angeles and New York) in creating unique educational opportunities and partnerships.

Deborah Willis


Deborah Willis, Ph.D, is University Professor and Chair of the Department of Photography & Imaging at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. Her research examines photography’s multifaceted histories. She received the MacArthur Fellowship and and a Guggenheim Fellow, among others. Professor.  Other notable projects include Reflections in Black: A History of Black Photographers – 1840 to the PresentPosing Beauty: African American Images from the 1890s to the PresentMichelle Obama: The First Lady in Photographs, a NAACP Image Award Literature Winner.

Djassi Johnson


Djassi DaCosta Johnson is a native New Yorker, dancer, choreographer, filmmaker, photographer, writer, anthropologist and activist. A product of dance scholarship programs, growing up in New York City, Djassi studied at Harlem School of the Arts, Ballet Hispanico, Clark Center and as a fellowship student at Alvin Ailey American Dance Center while obtaining her BA in Anthropology and English from Barnard College, Columbia University. She has apprenticed, performed and toured with, Dance Brazil, Earl Mosley, Hernando Cortez, Bill T. Jones, Nia Love, Urban Bush Women, among others, and was a featured soloist with MOMIX  for 8 years. Her choreography has been showcased internationally in films, music videos and performance piece collaborations with musicians and visual artists such as Eddie Peake, Brendan Fernandes and Lia Chavez.
Djassi’s love of fashion has infected her dance, and in 2002, she founded her line of women’s clothing, dja. She continues to design and currently has a line of bags and accessories as part owner of the store and artist collaborative Radical Women, based in Brooklyn, NY.
In 2017, Djassi collaborated wth the Museum of Sex as creative director/ choreographer for their first Virtual Reality Installation featuring music by DIPLO, “Celestial Bodies”, currently running. Djassi’s styling, designs and choreography were recently displayed in the music video for “Civil War” from Joan Baez’s 2018 visual album for which she also danced.
After working in Film &Television in Italy for 7 years, Djassi’s recent state-side film & TV credits include THE INTERN, BOLDEN!, “The Knick” and “The Get Down” among others and she has been featured in ads for Volkswagen, FIAT, Ferarrelle, Kate Spade, Stuart Weitzman, Coach, PHILLIPS, La Placa Cohen and VERIZON.
Djassi obtained her MFA in Dance & New Media from NYU Tisch in 2018 as a Dean’s Fellow, traveling abroad for her thesis research in Cuba. She is also in post production for her mini-documentary profiling black Brazilian Ballerinas history and current presence at Dance Theater of Harlem and will further develop her thesis work with the Acosta Danza company – photography, dance films and mini-documentaries — for a solo show this coming Fall. Djassi’s student film, “.sleepless.” was selected and screened at the Barnard Film festival “Moving Body-Moving Image” in April of 2018. Djassi is also a published writer and currently an arts contributor for the international lifestyle magazine KINFOLK.