My Last American Dollar: Round 1. Tricking and Flipping Coins: Making Dollars Hit, Round 2. Black Angels in the Infield: Dripping Faggot Sweat, Round 3. Whatchu Gonna Do: Marvelous like Marva
A performance by Keijaun Thomas
Knockdown Center and Franklin Furnace are pleased to present the world premiere of My Last American Dollar: Round 1. Tricking and Flipping Coins: Making Dollars Hit; Round 2. Black Angels in the Infield: Dripping Faggot Sweat; Round 3. Whatchu Gonna Do: Marvelous like Marva, a performance by artist Keijaun Thomas.
In this immersive solo work, Thomas interrogates and embodies resistance, asking: “How do we resist temptation, how do we slow down, how do we play, how do we survive?” Thomas traverses a multimedia installation that extends across Knockdown Center’s expansive main space, combining structural fragments of environments associated with labor, ritual, and hospitality such as locker rooms, strip clubs, waiting rooms, church pews, and field days. Investigating forms through which black and brown people hold space for each other, Thomas demonstrates how to carry the multiplicities of being young, gifted, and black.
Powerfully engaging with the entangled histories of labor, subjugation, and resistance, Thomas emphasizes the ways in which carrying multiplicities is complicated. In a passage from Round 2. Black Angels in the Infield: Dripping Faggot Sweat, she states:
“It is complicated. it is blurry. it is rooted and unrooted in my peoples history. my people being black people. it is difficult and hard, it is attached to my spine, it is connected to the middle passage of the Atlantic slave trade, it is in my blood, it is in the color of my shit in the toilet bowel, it is in the smell of my ancestors shit for weeks on end decaying, decaying on their chained bodies. it is crystal clear. it is as blue as water, it is as heavy as 1,000 black bodies being dumped into the ocean. it is dark. it is so peculiar. it is only felt as phantom pains, missing links, pedestals of display. it is the value of the auction block, it is the price of your coffee beans, your sugar and your tea leaves. your coffee beans, your sugar and your tea leaves. it is unforgiven and not speakable. it is unbelievable and thinkable. it is high yellow, red bone, caramel, chocolate. it is so black, it is blue. it is so black, it is blue. it is so fucking queer, it is so clear, it is so queer, it is detached and left for the faggots that can never be black men. it is detached and left for the faggots that can never be black men. it is fragile, it is as soft as cotton and hair weaves. as cotton and hair weaves. it is an open as the wounds on a slaves back. my ancestors backs. it is everything that i have ever known and resisted. it is everything that I have ever known and resisted. it is every piece of fabric and different colored paper with numerical value. it is the palms of my hands, my fathers hands, my brothers hands, my mothers hands, my sisters hands, my aunties hands, my cousins hands, my children’s hands. it is… complicated.”
Keijaun Thomas is a New York based artist and current Franklin Furnace Fund Recipient for 2018. Thomas creates live performances and multimedia installations— her work investigates the histories, symbols, and images that construct notions of Black identity within Black personhood. Thomas earned their Masters degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Thomas has presented work nationally and internationally in Los Angeles and Palo, Alto, CA; Portland, OR; Portland, ME; Chicago, IL; Saugatuck, MI; Steuben, WI; Boston and Cambridge, MA; New York, NY; Miami, FL; and Taipei, Taiwan; Paris, France; Mexico City, Mexico; Santiago, Chile; Istanbul, Turkey; Beirut, Lebanon; Saskatchewan and Vancouver, Canada; and the United Kingdom.
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.