I commit my work to the Tablets of Destiny—poems laser-etched onto suede leather–A compulsion in response to the anxieties of mortality—I hope to compose 108 scrolls in service to an unknown something. Chris Udemezue and RAGGA NYC catalyzed this project for the upcoming show “All the threatened and delicious things joining one another”, opening to the public 5/3/17.
A word / A work incarnates into several through translation. By which device will I communicate my power?
In many ways, I think of this piece as an investigation of ancestry. Inspired by my father’s relationship to hunting, which has provided me with physical nutrition and raw materials. Seared leather subtly connotes the curses’ emergence from violence. Because the text is seared, not ink, material has to be destroyed through incineration in order for the text-art to exist. I like to think of my relationship to language being mimetic of this, which is why illegibility is a primary concern in the conception of the piece // a curse literally written in flame.
In early 2017, RAGGA NYC, a platform founded by Christopher Udemezue, received a residency at The New Museum through the Department of Education & Public Engagement’s R&D Season: Body. RAGGA connects a community of queer Caribbean artists working across a wide range of disciplines—including visual art, fashion, and poetry—to explore how race, sexuality, gender, heritage, and history inform their work and their lives. The New Museum commissioned “Celestogram // Astrolabe I – IV”—drafts of the “Tablets of Destiny”—in service of the group show “All the threatened and delicious things joining one another” (5/3/17 – 6/25/17), curated by Sara O’Keefe.
“Poetry forms a foundation for the residency. Shanekia McIntosh presents a new poem in the exhibition recounting her grandmother’s hair-braiding and tales of Queen Nanny, weaving together their stories. Joey De Jesus’s handwritten poems form rich cosmologies through words and shape. Jahmal B. Golden’s printed poem “Memoir” testifies to spiritual and personal transformations, and is flanked on the right and left by photographs of vibrantly colored hands performing rituals tied to self-excavation. Maya Monès’s poem and audio piece “Ciencias Sociales” (Social Sciences) explores Afro-Latinx identity through a recovery of unspoken family history, a process of working to become closer to her roots.”
IMAGES: “Celestogram // Astrolabes (I – IV)”
*redacted until 7/17*
~ A practice in polyphony & holding multiple truths ~
~ Joey De Jesus (4/29/17)