«Last Yearz Interesting Negro» is the name used by Jamila Johnson-Small, whose work considers the immediacy of the gaze and puts forward the idea that looking creates meaning. They focus on steering or directing this gaze, rather than evading it and their interest in grappling with an invasive gaze can be traced back to the intense scrutiny that dancers’ bodies are placed under during formal training. Arms, hips and legs. The back arched and the torsos twisted. This fetish of the body, a scopophilic pleasure in looking at how impressively a dancer moves, is mapped onto the social constructs that dictate how each body moves through the world. Johnson-Small navigates the overlap between cultural signifiers and what a specific body, on a musculoskeletal level, is prepared to do and questions what effect it has on how the body moves.
Johnson-Small’s alias – Last Yearz Interesting Negro – is a sarcastic reprise of a scene in Julian Schnabel’s biopic Basquiat (1996) that reflects on the tendency for white cultural workers’ (gallerists, curators, critics) to display fleeting excitement over a particular black artist, only to lose that interest in place of the next hot trend. The alias reflects on being gazed upon, too, if not for more than a moment.
On the occasion of the presentation at Cabaret Voltaire, Jamila Jonhson-Small will stage a site-specific intervention.
This «Fun & Fury!» Performance Dienst-Tag / To-Do's Day is part of the program It Takes All The Fucking Time curated by Michelangelo Miccolis (IT)
Entrance fee: CHF 10.- (Cabaret Voltaire Members: free!)
Image: Last Yearz Interesting Negro / Jamila Johnson-Small, I ride in colour and soft focus, no longer anywhere, 2016.