"The Picnic: Harvest of the Zephyr", 2018
Mixed Media with performance
"The Picnic: Harvest of the Zephyr" is the largest iteration of my series of picnic performances. This work is made from colorful tablecloths that are collaged into a giant quilted picnic blanket dress structure that I wear while parading unto a park site with co-performers wearing matching costumes. Co-performers are servants who accessorize my dress structure with wicker baskets filled with local and exotic fruits, and water. The goal of this work is to create a shared multi-cultural dining and leisure experience where people from all walks of life are invited to gather and converse harmoniously.
About the live performance on 14th Street, NYC during Art in Odd Places "BODY":
“The Picnic: Harvest of the Zephyr” was performed on Sunday, October 14th during Art in Odd Places 2018: BODY. My co-performers and I wore coordinated costumes primarily made of vinyl tablecloths matching my dress of same materials. We began at our starting location with them holding and steering the train of the dress in front of Grace Exhibition Space, 182 Avenue C at 2:45 pm. From there we paraded northbound to 14th Street and Avenue C and headed westbound on the north side of the street, making one stop for a short break and display at Union Square. We then continued west towards 14th Street Park on 10th Avenue completing the two mile journey. After arriving at our destination at 14thStreet Park by the Hudson River we unfolded the train of my dress to reveal 40 ft by 40 ft picnic blanket for the public to convene on and share the eating of fruit together. I used the act of carrying natural food from East to West to spark conversation between people from different backgrounds. The fruits provided also tell the story of migration, imported here and brought to the table. The blending of people from many geographic locations on one blanket as one human family, as one body." The performance concluded around 6 pm and ended sweetly with the remaining fruits being happily accepted by passersby who missed the actual picnic performance.
For video and more info: Please contact me or Franklin Furnace Archives.
*This work was made possible, in part, by the Franklin Furnace Fund supported by Jerome Foundation, The SHS Foundation, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.
Collaborative, interdisciplinary, and site-specific performances with Kanene Ayo Holder
"Joncanooaacome at the Crossroads………. Where Brooklyn At?", 2018-ongoing
According to Brooklyn Historical Society there are currently 83 Brooklyn streets named after slavemasters.
The project, "Joncanooaacome at the Crossroads” entails workshops and performances about (un)told New York histories of African-Americans. Topics include gentrification and lost traditions of Africans in the Americas. During public workshops we perform ritualistic dances while inviting participants to tell their Brooklyn street addresses and shred clothing that they’ve brought while incorporating our materials to complete their own Junkanoo costumes.
Juncanoo was a pre-abolitionary decolonization satirical ceremony, from 14th century Africa confronting the opulence and cruelty of European occupation. Slaves dressed in ornate costumes subverted oppression through obtuse troupes of their masters. Some costumes included hats grand in scale replicating slavemaster mansions, others entailed animal characters drumming and dancing during Christmas in the Caribbean. The confluence of colonialism and African aesthetics are as relevant then as now during Labor Day Carnival in Brooklyn. Missing however, is Juncanoo’s specific performative treaties on slavery in Afro-Caribbean communities in the US. Due to this absence of its celebration we are proposing the following;
Performers dress as either a traditional form of (Colonial) John Canoe with ornate houses atop their heads or modern overpriced condos (Condo John Canoe) to reference the notion of occupation and opulence currently taking place in Brooklyn via gentrification. Brooklyn becomes a crossroads; a limbo land where truth and white lies create a symbiotic relationship both feeding and festering. Instead of misery or Afro-pessimism, participants are welcomed to create John Canoe costumes of their own.
In the performance component of this project, participants will parade in costume to the referenced street names that were named after slave masters. Such street names are referenced from the Brooklyn Historical Society.
Workshops incorporate the tradition of costuming and instrument making. Here, we will ask participants to bring their unwanted old clothing to be ripped and reused to create their Junkanoo costumes. With the additional provided materials we will teach them to construct such costumes for the rituals which will be performed on their streets. Eventually this information of time and dates of the Junkanoo parades on their streets will be disclosed so residents of such streets can participate.
*This project is partially supported by Culture Push Fellowship for Utopian Practice (2018-19)
'JunkanooHakkaMama' is a sentient being sent to cure all’s senses. A hybrid character creates a transient atmosphere inspired by Chinese herbal medicine practitioners and the Jamaican Jonkanoo's festival costumes and music. In an interactive performance participants are invited to sit in a circle to receive a form of treatment concocted by ‘JunkanooHakkaMama’ in response to their prescribed unnecessary sense determined upon their order in the circle. Using a process of elimination all sitting in the circle will receive some sort of treatment to eventually rejuvenate the united body.
Musical score was created from a Chinese horn, objects used in the performance, and the artist's breath.
This work was performed for "Psycho Tropic" at Wild Embeddings, Brooklyn, NY.
"JunkanooHakkaMama: Send Me As You Spirit Healer", 2018.
Performance w/ musical score, props, works on paper. 30 minutes.
On Nov 6, 1983 Adrian Piper's performance "Funk lessons" debuted as a response to xenophobia. 34 years later our generation continues to encounter racial and cultural tensions. The artist, Lyn-Kee-Chow responds to our times with a new iteration of her "Crop Killa" character (originally created for a 2010 performance), in "Crop Killa's Soca Social". Both a dance instruction and social event the artist embodies her character, a Jamaican dancehall queen from her "Crop Killa" performance to engage others to let loose, learn a few dance moves, and enjoy life.
This particular iteration of "Crop Killa Soca Social" was performed three times for three venues. These are (PPL) Panoply Performance Laboratory, Brooklyn, NY, "Live Action 12 International Performance Art Festival" in Gothenburg, Sweden, and "Transville", Catinca Tabicaru Gallery, New York, NY.
Reviewed in Cultbytes January 30, 2018 by Esther Neff.
"Crop Killa Soca Social", 2017.
Performance. 20 minutes.
"The Widow", 2017.
This work is inspired by my own familial history and heritage, particularly the Hakka, the Chinese ethnic group of which I am a part of. I want to draw attention to the woman, the women’s suffering as it pertains to death, and the mourning of loved ones. Reflecting on the Hakka women who were separated from their husbands, fathers, sons, brothers as they were sent off as indentured servants post the abolition of slavery in the Caribbean. For many of these women little did they know it would be their last time seeing their men alive.
“The Widow” is a durational performance and performed both indoors and outdoors. The costuming involves the rim of the black hat with long ribbons of black fabric attached to flow with the wind. I also wear a long black dress with fringes and sing the word Hallelujah, which then becomes deconstructed to form what sounds like Hellolujah, and Hallolujah. The meanings and intonations of the word become various and infinite.
There is a broken Hallelujah. There is darkness and there is light.
This work was performed as three iterations at Park Church Co-op in Brooklyn, NY and as two roaming performances outdoors for Live Action 12 International Performance Art Festival in Gothenburg, Sweden.
“The (American) Mother:
Composition in Black, White, and Grey”. 2017.
Performance with sculptural ephemera. Approximately 20 minutes
This performance was created response to recent hateful events in Charlottesville, VA, and their unfortunate, horrific ripple effect in communities across the country, including Asbury Park, NJ. I performed several characters, divided the audience by the color of their skin, and broke a confederate plate with the help of a member of the audience.
1. Bertha…enters with teapot, cup, saucer, spoon, newspaper, on table by mirror singing
“Wake the fuck up”, Wake the fuck up, Wake the fuck up, I said it’s time to fight the sleep).
2. Ms. Davis…enters and sits as old lady drinking tea, read paper
Play soundtrack: The Siamese Cat Song.
3. Cat crawls in and reads paper a little bit out loud, spills tea on paper.
4. Cat has audience tear paper too. Cat walks away while they tear paper.
5. Ms. Davis sits again saying… “Bertha, Bertha, where are you?”
6. Bertha replies, “I’m just sweeping up the kitty mess, Miss Davis, I’m just sweeping up the kitty mess ma’am.” (wipe face with hankerchief in pocket and continue to sweep the paper outside)
7. Ms. Davis sits again saying… “Bertha, Bertha, where are you? Somebody’s been spilling my tea!”
8. Bertha replies.. “That dang gone kitty, I hope one day she learn her lesson.”
9. Ms. Davis walks around asking audience while clinging the cup and saucer… “Did you spill my tea?, Did you spill my tea?”, etc. (dressed as Ms. Davis) Put down the cup (with tea) and saucer outside on the ground in the metal baking tray.
10. Bertha exits and says “Sometime you just gotta sing an old spiritual and make everybody feel alright sing after me one, two, three…Wake the fuck up, Wake the fuck up, I said wake the fuck up, I said its time to fight the disease…”(repeat chorus).
11. Cat picks up the plate with tea in hand (wearing apron and gloves, with mask on hair) picks up the plate and drops it on the floor. Cat (mask on) then picks up lighter, points at everyone over the torn paper and plate and curses everyone “All you mother fuckers, all y’all mother fuckers been making a huge ass mess out there y’all need to think about what the fuck y’all doin’ aight. I don’t want to hear no more shit, no more fuckin’ shit from all y’all. All y’all fuckin’ messed up, all y’all need to clean that fuck up. Clean up y’all fuckin’ act, I tell you!”
12. Hand every one the broom stick to smash the plate on the ground.
13. Cat cleans up the pieces with gloves on and puts it all in the metal tray. Starts fire and then outs it all with the tea.
* Performed for "We WILL Replace You", Siren Arts Gallery, Asbury Park, NJ
"Picnic Parade", 2017.
In "Picnic Parade" a picnic procession takes place while walking to drum beats for several blocks. The procession is a performance followed by a picnic in the park with the characters and the public. The ritual involves a serving of fruits and water to guests in the community by the attendants pictured here wearing white gloves. This work is intended to respond to ethnic, racial, geographic, socioeconomic, gender, and sexist separatisms.
Leading my entourage I wear a large quilted gown that becomes a large picnic blanket made of colorful vinyl tablecloths. With my matching performers we parade unto a park site with wicker baskets filled of fruits, and water. My co-performers’ roles are to serve my queen character and invited guests who are members of the public. The goal of this work is to create a shared multi-cultural dining and leisure experience where people from all walks of life are invited to gather and converse in a harmoniously colorful patchwork.
“Picnic Parade” is a part of a larger series titled, "Gypsies' Picnic" which began in 2009. This project has been shown in an exhibition format at Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning, Queens, NY during the artist-in residence program and at Museum of the Moving Image, Queens, NY during "Back Lot Art Festival" 2017.
“Rock, Peppa, Scissors” is a performance piece in which language, race, and power are at the heart, as two characters of different backgrounds engage with each other in a non-verbal communication. Through various objects, text, pictures, a printer, and pre-recorded as well as live video projections, the conversation of the two is constructed. The conversation becomes absurd and eventually emerges itself onto a pictorial and tangible language. The artists and the audience together create a wall of stories filled with humor, nonsense, and irony that challenge the definition and the weight of the language we use everyday.
We begin this performance as a conversation between two people seated in front of each other with a table in between them. Using a projector, images of the performers portraits will appear with subtitles. These contain text in the 'native' language of each performer. Jodie was born and raised in Jamaica, therefore she speaks Jamaican 'patois' however this is really an English dialect which may be difficult for other English speakers to understand, but some of this dialect is written here. Inmi speaks Korean and so the subtitles beneath her image is displayed in Korean. The dialogue appears to be sporadic and inconsistent.
At some point the text and images of the performers are shown. As these become more abstract the text will become nonsense. Emoticons replace the written text as a way to seemingly communicate more effectively. Being there are still some limitations to emoticons, actual objects are brought into a designated area in front of the performers. As the performance becomes less static and the performers more physical with the space around them members of the audience are invited to collaborate on the phrases to be made with the objects. Eventually, one of the performers removes themselves from the scene of the performance and documents the compositions of the objects in their evolution as they convey more meaning and narrative.
Using a camera, computer, and a printer these images are immediately documented and printed. The printed images are displayed on a wall for everyone to read.
It is with our intention that the work engages people from all walks of life, people who speak many different languages. By using objects as a means of visual communication there should be less boundaries between people.
“Rock, Peppa, Scissors” collaboration with Inmi Lee, 2017.
Performance. Approximately 40 minutes looped to 2+ hour durational.
Three tent structures representing three countries, Jamaica, China, and the United States relate to three continents, Africa, Asia, and Europe. Videos are housed in each structure where the artist performs a multitude of identities reflecting on the state of affairs in each place. There is also a live performance component of the same characters that takes place within the center of the installation. Each performance is approximately 10 minutes with intervals for costume changes.
My immigration story is still very vivid in my mind. Arriving in Atlanta, GA was such a foreign experience for me, a child of eleven years old. I left my childhood behind in Jamaica along with my friends and extended family along with an immediate decline in terms of my family’s previous lifestyle and financial status. The United States of America has been my forced adopted home since the mid 1980’s, not a choice of my own. Being an immigrant and an adolescent in the USA had its setbacks when my parents’ expectations of being successful did not fall short. Circumstances arose during the first few years of migrating here. As a result we moved a lot. It was difficult to acclimate. Yet this acclimation was the story of my family from generations ago with descendants hailing back from Africa, China, and Europe. Where was home?
Home for me was in front of the TV screen. Watching MTV, movies, and soap operas to quickly assimilate myself into a new culture while thinking of the Jamaican TV shows, live Jamaican pantomimes, Bruce Lee movies, and American Westerns was what I was exposed to back home, in Jamaica. In the United States I was now a person of many more places, at the intersection. For Jamaicans, the idea of intersectionality and cultural hybridity is nothing new. Jamaica’s national motto "Out of Many One People" inspires this work.
Note: To access video works please contact the artist for a link and password.
The Miami Rail, 2017 Jamaica Biennial by Nicole Smyhthe-Johnson
National Gallery of Jamaica Blog
"8 Years to Freedom", 2017.
Special Project for Jamaica Biennial
Mixed media installation with video (and performance component).
Includes: PVC, astroturf, vinyl, fabric, wood, rocks, vintage photos, live fish, water, videos, electronic equipment.