Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU presents 'Jeremy Toussaint-Baptiste... and Drive (Far Away)'

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Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU presents 'Jeremy Toussaint-Baptiste... and Drive (Far Away)'
Jeremy Toussaint-Baptiste with a Ford 2009 decommissioned police car, 2022. Photo: Cassidy Araiza.

RICHMOND, VA.- Jeremy Toussaint-Baptiste presents . . . and Drive (Far Away), a mixed media sound installation and durational performance which approaches a cross-country drive along I-10 and I-95, from Tucson, Arizona to Richmond, VA, through the lens of Gulf South sonority, a phenomenon deeply tied to the automobile, where marronage, history, sonic pageantry, and physical sensation may all collapse upon one another. Making use of custom car audio and car tint, the performance and installation/sonorous non-instruments, specifically, looks at decommissioned Ford Police Interceptors/Crown Victorias, simultaneously, as a sociocultural-audiovisual marker which is key to Gulf South sonic ecologies, as well as its existence a space of potential self-abstraction, fraught with risk and ripe with potential for withholding or disappearance or even flight, drawing attention to the oft-dangerous labor required of migration. Along the drive, stops will be made in key cities along I-10 and I-95 (themselves arteries of Gulf South sonority), where activations will occur. Here, the car becomes a sort-of instrument as the intense sound of the bass is obscured and abstracted while its doors and windows open and close, much like the keys of a saxophone being depressed or raised to allow; in each case the restriction within or release of air from the vessel shapes the sound and allows for the perception of “music.”

“In addition to complicating the history of the Ford Police Interceptor (here, I’m reminded of the slippage between “cop” and “intercept” as words which imply an act of capture), . . . and Drive (Far Away) is also a work which continues my commitment to complicating works of historic artists as well as my own family history. Indeed, the car itself is a decommissioned model from Baton Rouge, La., where I was born and where my grandfather was a high-ranking police official, and is already on its third life as an “artist’s car,” formerly belonging to New Orleans’ Scott Campbell and Tucson’s Olivier Mosset; both of whom used the car to address the visual through their existent practices. My work with the car extends that, overlaying even darker black squares atop Mosset’s existing black squares (themselves, already an interpolation of Kazimir Malevich’s Black Square), while incorporating the sonic in the form of installing custom, ultra-low frequency subwoofers which, along with the darkly tinted windows play against notions of hypervisibility and representation...not much can be seen from outside of the car, while inside language becomes texture only able to render itself audible in the gaps in the bass..”

- Jeremy Toussaint-Baptiste

This performance will end with a culminating event Friday, June 10, 2022 at the Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University. Installation and performance is co-presented by Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University, 1708 Gallery, and Martos Gallery.

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