'Walk better dan sidong." 2009
Performance. 45 minutes. A collaborative performance by Jodie Lyn-Kee-Chow + Zachary Fabri
“Walk better than sidong” (Jamaican proverb)
Meaning: To walk is better than to sit down. Used when someone goes somewhere and receives something he or she needs or can use, that he or she might not have received, staying home.
In “Walk better than sidong”, artists Jodie Lyn-Kee-Chow & Zachary Fabri perform movements that may seem as if they are ordinary, everyday activities. Other than just plain walking both performers simultaneously travel from point A to point B and back.
By oscillating back and forth characters may lose things along the way. These things may cross paths with a new owner, creating a new destiny for that thing.
Performance. 45 minutes. Sound component, industrial fishnet, sand, garbage, organic material.
As our global climate changes with global warming it is unavoidable that our ocean changes along with it. Not only are our oceans a vital source of energy it is where 80 percent of life on earth is found. It is what keeps our earth habitable.
Our oceans are facing major pollution caused by human negligence. Oil spills and garbage, not to mention improper fishing techniques causing marine life to suffer. A more in depth explanation of the pollution would include the urban and industrial run-off from domestic sewage and industrial and radioactive discharges.
According to Greenpeace key threats to address are modern industrial fishing and bycatch. As large fish are being caught for our consumption and wiped out the smaller ones are then being targeted, this causing a domino effect of more people competing for less fish, eventually leading to a collapse of the ecosystem.
The wasteful practices of big fisheries use of fishing nets that haul and kill hundreds of thousands of whales and dolphins and other kinds of unwanted marine creatures while hunting for other species. This entanglement is the leading threat to our oceans as many species have experienced extinction and endangerment.
"Wash Day", 2009
Performance. Site-specific performance. Silkscreened tote bags, clothing.
Using clothing found in the abandoned space, viewers are invited to participate by squatting and looking through the pile of clothes for an article of clothing of their choice. Once a selection is made they give it to the Wash girl (performed by the artist) to hand wash. The Wash girl will then hang it on the clothes line to dry. At the end of the evening, when the people are ready to pick up their clothes the Wash girl will take it off the clothes line and if it’s not dry she may iron it and bag it for them to take home.
"Mildendranthema Grandeflorum", 2008
Mixed media Installation.
Mildendranthema Grandeflorum, a piece that incorporates photography, video, installation and sculpture, is the performative work of art by Lyn-Kee-Chow who embodies a mythical character, appropriately called the flower thief. Dressed in a white top, blue skirted overall, gardening apron, straw hat, gardening gloves, and carrying her watering can, this flower thief is captured in untamed forestry, near passing streams and in manicured gardens of high-rise apartment buildings. Lyn-Kee-Chow’s appropriation of visual markers commonly associated with popular fairy tales is obvious here. Characters like the little red riding hood immediately come to mind. A main feature in the plot of this fairy tale and others like it is an innocent child who roams a deep and dark forest alone, and who is eventually attacked by a predator. But in Lyn-Kee-Chow’s version, the main character herself is the predator whose life is threatened because of her own insatiable yearning for beautiful flowers. The aerial perspective from which the photographs are taken lends an element of voyeurism to each scene in which the expansive foliage seems to elucidate the flower thief’s self-induced isolation. She is always alone and engrossed in her quest, and, despite the scope of each scene, the fences that barricade each of the properties she invades add an air of entrapment. After treading garden after garden, she finally unearths the ultimate coveted flower, the mildendranthema grandeflorum, which she seizes and carefully plants in her own garden and encloses it with a white picket fence. Little does she know that this flower is the habitat of dragonflies that attack her, and lead her to her demise.
In dynamic and vividly coloured photographs, Lyn-Kee-Chow transcends spatial and temporal parameters as we witness the flower thief treading grounds in St. Elizabeth, Jamaica, the White House’s Rose Garden in Washington D.C., and Queens, New York. Although the artist has contextually anchored the protagonist’s location in Jamaica, it is simultaneously transnational in scope and speaks to how this legend can be applied universally. In fact, the locations in Mildendranthema Grandeflorum seem to exemplify Marc Auge’s notion of “non-place,” which is a transient locale such as an airport or supermarket from which “one may decipher neither identity, relation, nor history.” Such is the consequence, he explains, of living in a supermodern world. Yet, within this world, people place immense value on particular objects since it may signify prestige. Jean Baudrillard’s notion of the sign value of an object is applicable here because while this kind of object has no function, it bears social value. For this is what the flower symbolizes: it is that supreme object that is highly desired, a marker of distinction.
While Lyn-Kee-Chow visually constructs her magic realist piece using the imagery of fairy tales, its mythical narrative is mostly gleaned from the real life, yet exasperating, experience of her grandmother, a prize-winning horticulturist who has the non-ending misfortune of being victim to flower thieves who steal from her beautiful garden. According to Lyn-Kee-Chow, she would always see people sneaking into her garden and snipping off some of her flowers and plants. This never stopped her grandmother from contesting these perpetrators as she would curse at them or, more recently, use her slingshot to scare them off! She refuses to have people take flowers from the shrubs she has carefully cultivated. Yet, this is what is so intriguing to Lyn-Kee-Chow: the fact that people get so attached to their flowers, and when taken without permission, call it stealing even though it is just nature.
It is perhaps this reasoning that permits us to view Mildendranthema Grandeflorum as a myth in its own right. Undoubtedly, Lyn-Kee-Chow’s artwork is influenced by Caribbean folklore and legends, their purpose in society always being to establish cultural behavioural rules and standards of acceptability. Folklore has been central to the work of legendary Jamaican performers such as Louis Bennett and Oliver Samuels who have used the stage to expand on this tradition. They have been instrumental to the development of contemporary manifestations of performance-based art in the Caribbean and its Diaspora, of which Mildendranthema Grandeflorum is an example. On the other hand, Lyn-Kee-Chow’s work falls under the rubric of performance that resists categorization, borrows from traditional and contemporary cultural influences, references and icons, and, invokes different ways of seeing, thinking and doing. Needless to say, this piece is a significant contribution to contemporary Caribbean art.
_Samantha Noel, RUSH Arts guest writer
“1st Strike, Last Dance” 2006-9
Mixed Media Installation and performance with sound. 15 minutes. Dimensions vary. DVD TRT 5:54
“1st Strike, Last Dance” is a performance and mixed- media installation of a camouflaged vine. The camouflage is guised as the surface of the vine. During the performance bright yellow flowers are released to the peaceful sounds of birds ending with the release of a live ballerina to the sound of loud machine guns and explosions.
“Touch and Go”, 2007
Mixed media installation and Performance. 2 hours. Performed with Monica Carrier.
In “Touch and Go” (2007) Jodie Lyn-Kee-Chow takes on the role of an athletic swimmer in training. Competing with no one else but herself, the artist depends on the viewers to dictate a swimming technique, which she then sets out to perform from one end of the swimming platform to the other. Lyn-Kee-Chow’s action only comes to rest in a floating position after a lap is completed and awaits for the coach to train her. This performance reveals the endurance of the athlete under direction and comments on the goals one may set out to accomplish while accepting the physical risks of the game.
Performed at Exit Art, NY.