Harvest, Detail of James Byrd’s head

Harvest

Harvest is presently a work in progress. It addresses three American lynchings, two of which occurred within the past fifteen years: the lynchings of Jesse Washington (tortured and burned to death in Texas, 1916), James Byrd (dragged to death—to the point of decapitation in Texas, 1998), and the mysterious death (most likely a lynching) of Frederick Jermaine Carter, found hanging from a tree in Mississippi (2010). These three horrific incidences, I bring together to have a conversation about the foundation of spectacle violence on which America was built.

In the final version of Harvest, the ground will be carpeted with a plague of living frogs—they will represent our departure from reality into the space of The Dreamscape.

Harvest is a conversation about what the American society has sown (violence toward black and brown people) and what it is presently reaping (a seemingly inexplicable culture of violence)—the atrocities that American History has attempted to bury—but the ground is only so deep—or erase from its collective memory, and how the sentiments behind the nation’s horrific past, which never really died, eventually resurface.

Throughout the completed work, the musical score to The Battle Hymn of the Republic (a hymn written during the Civil War era, that speaks in part to God’s retribution over His enemies for past wrongs) will appear inscribed on the bodies of the haunted cellist the depicted “lynch tree.” The musical score is a cynical poke at the notion of “patriotism” and “heroism,” which are both ideas that the song has come to represent for most of mainstream America, even while for many black and brown people in this nation, the history of the United States and the great atrocities that created this nation read less as “patriotic” and far more as horrific. In this installation, I am interested in the collapse of the often-telegraphed version of patriotic and moralistic American history, and I wish to challenge the notion of “American exceptionalism,” especially around the question of morality and justice.

Harvest

Harvest is presently a work in progress. It addresses three American lynchings, two of which occurred within the past fifteen years: the lynchings of Jesse Washington (tortured and burned to death in Texas, 1916), James Byrd (dragged to death—to the point of decapitation in Texas, 1998), and the mysterious death (most likely a lynching) of Frederick Jermaine Carter, found hanging from a tree in Mississippi (2010).

These three horrific incidences, I bring together to have a conversation about the foundation of spectacle violence on which America was built.

In the final version of Harvest, the ground will be carpeted with a plague of living frogs—they will represent our departure from reality into the space of The Dreamscape.

Harvest is a conversation about what the American society has sown (violence toward black and brown people) and what it is presently reaping (a seemingly inexplicable culture of violence)—the atrocities that American History has attempted to bury—but the ground is only so deep—or erase from its collective memory, and how the sentiments behind the nation’s horrific past, which never really died, eventually resurface.

Throughout the completed work, the musical score to The Battle Hymn of the Republic (a hymn written during the Civil War era, that speaks in part to God’s retribution over His enemies for past wrongs) will appear inscribed on the bodies of the haunted cellist the depicted “lynch tree.” The musical score is a cynical poke at the notion of “patriotism” and “heroism,” which are both ideas that the song has come to represent for most of mainstream America, even while for many black and brown people in this nation, the history of the United States and the great atrocities that created this nation read less as “patriotic” and far more as horrific. In this installation, I am interested in the collapse of the often-telegraphed version of patriotic and moralistic American history, and I wish to challenge the notion of “American exceptionalism,” especially around the question of morality and justice.