M. Lamar

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What is my work about?

I am exploring the possibilities of black male personhood and becoming in the historic and constant devaluation of black life via slave ships, plantations, Jim and Jane Crow, mass incarceration and assassinations via police shooting. Through my work in performance, video, installation and sound I aim to construct an emancipated self through the ruins of the US white supremacist empire. I am aiming to construct a NEGROGOTHIC devil worshipping free black man in the blues tradition. That man is me and my work documents my fictional and literal becoming.

Artist Statement

My work exists to re-member and pre-figure the black subject within landscapes of longing and dehumanization endemic to imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy.

And to mourn… always to mourn…

More specifically, I represent and manifest — by unearthing, archiving, and imagining — visions of black male personhood, embodiment, and subjectivity. Prevailing representations of blackness in U.S. culture offer only narrow historical accounts of subjugation and resistance, and anemic visions of freedom. Central to these are (in bell hooks’s words,) “images of black males in popular culture that represent them as not only eager to ‘do it for daddy’ but, even more, as individuals tortured by… ‘unrequited longing for white male love.’”

In creating spaces of trauma, recovery, and transformation, my work combines video, sculpture, photography, sound, and performance. My uses of multiple media cross several genres and styles: horror, romanticism, surrealism, and pornography.

In so doing, I consistently construct emancipated figures standing against the rot and ruin of white supremacy — a devil worshiper in the blues tradition, a deathless avenger, an apocalyptic prophet, a free black man. That man is me. My work — whether in exhibition, installation, performance, or process — both creates and records my perpetual fictional and literal becomings… and my becoming free…

Freedom requires a decolonizing exorcism and consorting with the dead. From the slave ship to the pillory… on plantations and lynching trees… within and beyond the prison and the grave… my work binds archive to myth, merging bodily properties with supernatural possessions.

Recent projects fuse performance, animation, and video projections to interrogate the constant violent sexualized surveillance of black male bodies. My current works in progress draw on the themes of apocalypse, rapture, and judgment in Negro spirituals to envision a future past a revolutionary, revelational reckoning in the face of the persistence of unjust black death. At the level of content, this work connects historic trauma embedded and occluded in our society to contemporary struggles for social justice in Ferguson, Baltimore, Charleston, and elsewhere. This work is — as always — mourning, but also — uniquely — morning: a psalm of woe and a call to action.

 

CV

www.mlamar.com

Education

Classical Voice – Private Instruction from Ira Siff, 2006-present

Yale School of Art – M.F.A., Sculpture (did not graduate)

San Francisco Art Institute – B.F.A., Painting

Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture

Alabama School of Fine Arts High School, Painting (did not graduate)

Selected Solo Exhibitions and Performances

2015

Surveillance Punishment and the Black Psyche
FUNDarte Out in the Tropics Festival, Miami
Wesleyan University, Queer Poetics Conference
Human Resources, Los Angeles
San Francisco Art Institute

NEGROGOTHIC: A Manifesto
The Walter and McBean Galleries, San Francisco Art Institute

2014

NEGROGOTHIC: A Manifesto
Participant, Inc., New York City

Surveillance Punishment and the Black Psyche
The Bone Festival, Bern, Switzerland
La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club, New York City
The Wild Project, New York City

Speculum Orum: Shackled To the Dead
Jeter Son Corps dans La Bataille, Geneva, Switzerland
Erika Presents: Episode 6: Make a Way Out of No Way, Glasgow, Scotland

2013

Surveillance Punishment and the Black Psyche
Queer New York International Arts Festival, New York City

The Lynching Tree Concert Tour 2013
Södra Teatern, Stockholm, Sweden
Warehouse 9, Copenhagen, Denmark
Nacht Boulevard, Potsdam Germany
Färgfabriken, Stockholm, Sweden
Pustervik, Göteborg, Sweden
Debaser, Malmö, Sweden
John Dee, Oslo, Norway
Loophole, Berlin, Germany

Speculum Orum: Shackled to the Dead
Performatorum, Regina, Canada
Queer-Feminist Anti-Racist Performance Festival, Stockholm, Sweden

2012

Speculum Orum: Shackled to the Dead
The African American Arts and Culture Complex, San Francisco
Dixon Place, New York City
The International Theater Festival, Donzdorf, Germany
Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York City (World Premiere)

2011

Negro Antichrist
Dixon Place, New York City

2010

Darkness Descend
Abrons Art Center, New York City

Souls on Lockdown
Galapagos Art Space, New York City

2009

Dirty Dirty Nigga
Center For Performance Research, New York City

The Black Death
The Chocolate Factory Theater, New York City

Selected Group Showings/Guest Performances

2014

Under the Radar Lounge, The Public Theater, New York City
Justin Vivian Bond: 20 Years in New York, Le Poisson Rouge, New York City

2010

Avant-Garde-Arama, Performance Space 122, New York City

2009

Our Hit Parade, Joe’s Pub, New York City
Low Standards, Joe’s Pub, New York City

2008

Luster, Performance Space 122 and Abrons Art Center, New York City

2005

No One Passes, Counter Pulse, San Francisco

Awards

Mr. Lamar is a recipient of the Franklin Furnace Fund Grant 2013–14 and a Harpo Foundation grant 2014-15