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Premiere of Kalup Linzy’s First Film!

Actor James Franco and artist Kalup Linzy at Rob Pruitt’s 2010 Art Awards at Webster Hall. East Village, Manhattan, 12.08.10. Production still from the series "New York Close Up." © Art21, Inc. 2011.

And it’s a musical! Tap your foot to it here: Kalup Linzy & James Franco, That’s Entertainment!

Kalup invited us along to film the debut performance of Kalup & Franco back in December at Rob Pruitt’s 2010 Art Awards. We spent the day and night together, documenting an acupuncture appointment in Midtown, the red carpet, and then the performance itself.

Because they didn’t have new songs yet, Kalup & Franco performed a few of Kalup’s older original songs, which he usually performs alone and in character. It was fascinating to see how Kalup and James felt out their personas, in public and for the first time, both as themselves and as a newly formed duo/characters Kalup & Franco.

Kalup told us in the cab: “If I didn’t go to the gym or the acupuncturist, I would not leave my house—hardly ever—except to go to an art event. And I don’t think that’s always good, to be alone all the time.” This film is in many ways a study in contrast: between private and public moments, being a solo artist and forming a group, the shrinking divide of the art world and celebrity culture, and Kalup’s purposefully lo-fi performance style at a glitzy event. We aimed to preserve the overall surreal quality of the day as well as convey the tension of how it feels to try something new, on a big stage, when the stakes for a young artist are so high.

Fast-forward six months later, and Kalup & Franco’s EP Turn It Up is due out in a few weeks—with all new original songs. We heard a few demos at Kalup’s place in Brooklyn…and want to be first in line when the record drops!

ABOVE: Actor James Franco and artist Kalup Linzy at Rob Pruitt’s 2010 Art Awards at Webster Hall. East Village, Manhattan, 12.08.10. Production still from the series New York Close Up. © Art21, Inc. 2011.

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