Jesus Walks

Kanye West's latest performance was filmed inside James Turrell’s Roden Crater

Alpha (East) Tunnel within Roden Crater, designed by James Turrell. (James Turrell Studio files)

Though rapper Kanye West has continued to push his art into the visual field for the last few years, fans were still surprised last January to learn that he donated $10 million towards the completion of James Turrell‘s Roden Crater, a series of tunnels and experiential spaces burrowed into a dormant volcano in the painted deserts of northern Arizona. The project began in 1977 and has been in the works for so long that, in 2013, “Sooner or Later, Roden Crater” became its unofficial tagline.

Though Roden Crater is not officially complete yet (due to a lack of funding), ARTnews announced that West had produced a film within the hollowed volcano this summer and it will soon be released through a collaboration with IMAX. Titled Jesus is King, the film documents one of West’s Sunday Service performances in the gospel tradition, set to the music of his eponymous album to be released sometime this year. A poster has also been released for the movie and it features Alpha (East) Tunnel, one of the ‘light tunnels’ within Roden Crater.

A blue poster with the words Jesus is King

Kanye’s Jesus is King IMAX poster frames Roden Crater in an almost religious way. (Courtesy IMAX)

On top of the $10 million he independently provided, West partnered with Arizona State University (ASU) to work towards accruing $200 million to put towards Roden Crater’s completion within the next five years, $40 million of which has been raised to date. When finished, visitors will be able to explore the three mile-wide site’s 21 viewing spaces and six tunnels, all designed to align with celestial phenomena, for which Turrell consulted a number of noted astronomers—including E.C. Krupp, the current director of the Los Angeles Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, as well as the late Richard Walker, an Astronomer based in the nearby town of Flagstaff.

Unfortunately, because the crater is unfinished, access to the public has been restricted and will likely remain that way until the project is complete. Until then, West’s film will likely provide substantial shots of the art bunker’s interiors when presented in IMAX theatres starting October 25.

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