Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Thinking with/talking back to Lemon's "Scaffold Room"

Above: April Matthis
Below: Okwui Okpokwasili
performers in Ralph Lemon's Scaffold Room at The Kitchen


musings...about how B/black artists choose quilting/sampling where materials--visual, verbal, aural; humble or dear--are many and close to hand. moms mabley and kathy acker; ben webster and david bowie (totally pimped out on soul train and wasn't even embarrassed). when you unroll and stretch this fabric out its seams run thick as scars. does cold, unforgiving space crush art? or does it set it off like jewels on velvet in vitrine? what's up with footwear for women here: white nursing clogs? patent leather red spike heels? or none at all, just barefoot? admitting guests to nearly-barren space where most must stand for two hours...or so they think. actually starting the performance first and then interrupting to pass out folding chairs? what...hostility? inhospitality? chaos? how is performance like a scaffold--for exhibition, for execution? what is B/black womanhood? janis sang baby i know just how you feel in little girl blue? did she? know just how you feel, i mean? did amy know? what if beyoncé--whose teeny screen image one must bow to see--is actually not the vortex of every last person's universe? which universe are we talking? subtle pauses and tilts of the head, matter-of-fact voice...is okpokwasili artificial, a simulacrum, an impersonation of an impersonation folded in upon herself like nested alternate universes? april matthis singing and mumbling to herself in a distracted, helium-ated voice or screaming in different registers for what seems like ten minutes or six centuries...has she found freedom in the bodymeeting it on its own terms...freedom shockingly beautiful and also dreadful?

*****

Conceptual artist Ralph Lemon opened Scaffold Room (multimedia installation, readings and performances) at The Kitchen on October 30 in collaboration with Kevin Beasley, Jim Findlay, Paul Hamilton, Malcolm Low, April Matthis, Roderick Murray, Naoko Nagata, Okwui Okpokwasili, Omagbitse Omagbemi, Katherine Profeta, Marina Rosenfeld, Mike Taylor and Philip White. Performances and readings concluded yesterday, November 10, but the installation remains open through Saturday, December 5  in the 2nd floor gallery. Hours are Tuesday-Friday 12-6pm, Saturday 11am-6pm. Admission is free.

For information, click here.

The Kitchen
512 West 19th Street (between 10th and 11th Avenues), Manhattan
(map/directions)

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