During her residency with ARCAthens last Fall, Visual Art Fellow Tomashi Jackson actively sought out new perspectives on democracy. In her latest exhibition, FOREVER MY LADY, this question of democracy was woven and posed through strategic use of color, iconic imagery, and ephemeral materials.
In Tomashi’s words:
“This work…places the myths of American democracy in visual collision with its perverted reality (suppression of Black voters and the crack explosion of the eighties). Something of an excavation of origin for the idea of Democracy and the fact of what we have actually experienced. After walking through ancient ruins and seeing marks of humanity surviving and mourning I thought of the impact on a people whose humanity has been consistently compromised, debated, and undermined. What mania must naturally arise when our behavioral links to all other people and civilizations of the world, knowable by respect for cultural antiquity, has been severed and we have been left othered like a side show? What is the impact of denied public recognition of crimes against our humanity sold to us as normal alongside the notion of the supremacy of American democracy and exceptionalism?”
The exhibition also included three video works which feature Tomashi’s alter ego, Tommy Tonight, lip-syncing to R&B songs along with guest performers—some of which are artists that Tomashi had met and recruited in Athens during her residency.
In “We’re all Gonna Go (Greeks on Sadness, Happiness, and Liberation” Tommy Tonight is seen on an Athens rooftop with Delalis, a character created and performed by Greek artist Eleni Mylonas. Together they are lip-syncing to Curtis Mayfield’s “(Don’t Worry) If There’s Hell Below We’re All Gonna Go.”
Sharon Mizota of LA Times writes, “The video brings otherwise odd bedfellows together in a bit of fun, knitting together concerns about democracy, civil rights and gender through the lens of pop culture….[It] feels frankly hopeful and inclusive.”
FOREVER MY LADY was Tomashi’s first exhibition at Night Gallery as well as her first solo exhibition in her hometown of Los Angeles.
All images courtesy of Night Gallery.
UPDATE FROM TOMASHI JACKSON – April 29, 2020: