Curated by Philip Bither and Bartholomew Ryan with Fionn Meade
September 19-25, 2014
Walker Art Center
Ralph Lemon merges performance, visual art, music, and text in his new work Scaffold Room, an inquisitive hybrid that premieres at the Walker before a national tour. Lemon calls his latest work a “lecture-performance-musical,” one that refracts ideas of contemporary performance through archetypal black female personae in American culture.
The piece connects three women–Okwui Okpokwasili and April Matthis (performing live) and 86-year-old Edna Carter, along with her extended family (on video). The live performers enact parallel iconic characters that draw from history, popular culture, and science fiction with source materials ranging from Moms Mabley to Amy Winehouse, Kathy Acker to Samuel R. Delany, as they “act out” within and around assumptions about prescribed cultural body politics. The live performance installation is supported by an electronic/turntable-based sound score created and performed by composer Marina Rosenfeld. The space for Scaffold Room is a confined, constructed two-story environment, in essence its own theater, placed in the Walker’s white cube Burnet Gallery.
Over the week-long installation, the public was invited to observe Scaffold Room during installation and rehearsals in the Burnet Gallery and through a series of timed, ticked performances.