"theory of blackness is theory of the surreal presence" -Fred Moten
In a 2014 interview by Ellen Mara De Wachter for Frieze Magazine Kerry James Marshall stated "I think the primary thing my work does is establish a black presence." This reduction of his work as a mechanism of recognition, was, for me, more a rush of wind than breathed words. It was a call which, itself, was a response. A diagnosis which doubled as a cure. These words got to me, went through me, wrapped around me leaving, etched on my skin, a map which inscribed a very particular way of imagining; of contemplating who, and deeper still where I am as an artist. It gave language to my aspirations and entrenched my investment in building a material black presence
Evil Nigger (Pt. 1-4): A collaboration w/ Jeremy toussaint Baptise; for julius eastman
Art can tell the truth history cannot. Art has the capacity to tap into a deepness that drowns the most eloquent of words in the throat. But truth? Truth is always subjective just like art. A blur. And sometimes a personality comes along that is a living blur, a shadow at night without the presence of street lamps. A silhouette that appears and disappears depending on the mood of the moon. Julius Eastman is a shadow. A shadow insofar as the silhouette is that of a ghost. I've been haunted by Eastman. Jeremy (Toussaint Baptise- my collaborator) has been haunted as well. During a sleepless 24hr performance at JACK in Brooklyn we invited Eastman (his spirit) in and with a gust of wind that smelled of outdoors he took up residence. His presence possessed us and we created a conversational piece with his ghost- Evil Nigger. Since his screams by way of his music wakes us at night and we listen, making sense of the pitch and tone.
"Evil Nigger pt 1, 2 & 3" is a collaborative performance by LaMont Hamilton and Jeremy Toussaint-Baptise. Performed sonically by Toussaint-Baptise and bodily by Hamilton this work is a conversational piece with the work of postminimalist composer Julius Eastman. Eastman's seminal orchestral piece whose provocative title is this performances namesake, Evil Nigger, was originally composed in 1979. Deeply emotional, swelling from an internalized trauma the piece contains a stirring the performance by Hamilton and Toussaint Baptise emotes. Draped in a trance/meditation Evil Nigger pt 1, 2 & 3
Evil Nigger pt 1-5 at The Kitchen, NYC Jan 2018; w/ Jeremy Toussaint Baptise, Andre Zachery, Shantelle Courvoisier Jackson & Nyugen Smith; Photo by Cameron Kelly; All Rights Reserved- the artists, ISSUE PROJECT ROOM and The Kitchen
Untitled (Liner Notes to Evil Nigger Performance for Julius Eastman) by LaMont Hamilton
“the reason why i use that particular word is because
it has a, what i call, basicness about it. That is to say[…]the first niggers were field niggers
and upon that is the basis of the american economic system…
That is what i call the first and great nigger, field niggers.
And what i mean by niggers is that thing which is fundamental.
that person or thing that attains to a basicness, a fundamentalness
and assuage that thing which is…elegant.”
What does it mean to be hideously elegant?
To exhibit grace in the face of a brutal and regulative existence of a system
built precisely on the grounds or field which blood bone soil, blood bone foundation
is located in the economy of your disagreeable blackness. ‘That which is fundamental’
to this economy- your death as capital.
The Nigger as an uncomfortable prefiguration of unrequited entanglement with capital.
At the locus of this (beyond) conceptualization is, once again,
the iconic figure of the black slave who's representation
(in the deepest depths of the darkest well flickering light on the wall,
face and eyes raised and turning to coming of the day)
is all that which is most complex about this country.
or a complex, to put it more straight. There are facts.
Nigger as (de) composition of damnation and saving grace.
Despised inamorat(a)o who’s flesh must be incessantly consumed
for the basic american economic system survival.
“A nigger attains himself or herself to the ground of anything.
thats what i mean by nigger so there are many niggers,
there are many different kinds of niggers.
there are, of course, 99 names of Allah but there are 52 niggers.”
Attaining and attending to the grounds. The soil.
Imagine a tilling and unearthing of artifacts that reveal talismans.
Mythical figures that initiate a multitude of declensions.
(a rush of white noise) (fade)
Blood bone deep dig that, in the golden ray of remembered
forgotten memory, revealed mustard seed sized magic
that eclipses the initial forecast of simply evil, crazy and good niggers to unveil a much deeper than imagined, 52 Niggers.
(rush of astonished gasps) (white noise. temporarily off air)
And at that, a lesser god. Blossomed.
Blooming of buried blood bone deep seeds
into radical presences.
Dawn is approaching. New Day
There is not much more to say except Thank You. And please accept this work of art as a sincere act of love and devotion.
Yours with love,
The One(s) Dedicated to Emancipation
*(Quotes are from Julius Eastman’s Introduction to his 1980 concert at Northwestern University
Five on the black hand side/
@ The Studio Museum in Harlem
Curated by Amanda Hunt and presented in dialogue with exhibitions at the time A Constellation; Black: Material, Color, Concept and Lorraine O’Grady’s Art Is, the performance of Dapline! at the Studio Museum in Harlem is one that pulls itself apart to come back together again delivering, abstractly, traces of Black expressive culture along the way.
In this iteration of Dapline! the entire museum was activated Throughout the day, performances featured Yaw Agyeman and Jeremy Toussaint-Baptise activating the space sonically (acoustically and electronically respectively), Yon Tande (formally Whitney Hunter) conversational work with Lorraine O'Grady's Art Is exhibit which all culminated in the theatre with an unique excerpt of Dapline!