For our first exhibition kindly hosted by VORTIC COLLECT as part of the LONDON COLLECTIVE , Arcade is pleased to present ‘2020’ a two artist exhibition with Jeremiah Day and Dapper Bruce Lafitte. Through their different approaches both artists explore complex and marginalised American histories. This year is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the Mayflower in the New World and simultaneously a moment when the call goes out to decolonize society, education and the arts. To mark this occasion we are bringing together a new photographic series by Day created from the analogue transparencies of his 2008 slide installation ‘The Fall of the Twelve Acres Museum’ and an overview of felt-tip drawings by Dapper Bruce Lafitte.
Day and Lafitte both employ images and text with an urgency to communicate. Amiri Baraka has argued that modern art is abstract because if you showed the people how the world works they would be able to change it, they would burn parts of it down. Lafitte and Day’s works aim for just such a public description, and share the assumption that such a description matters.
‘The Fall of the Twelve Acres Museum’ is a reflection on the meaning of the United States. It depicts the landscape of Cape Cod where the English settler colonialists first met and were saved by the Wompanoag tribe. Despite being defeated militarily the Wompanoag were never crushed and continue to enact and defend their culture to this day. The images mix historical sites and those shown to the artist by Earl Mills, Chief Flying Eagle of the Mashpee Wompanoag, who famously led the tribe into a confrontation with the state over land rights in the 1970’s; a lawsuit which was defeated on the grounds that the Tribe had lost too much of its identity to hold onto its original rights. The battle is ongoing and this year the Trump administration attacked the remaining rights of the Tribe.
Whilst Day often writes directly onto photographs and diagrams, in this series the written gesture is supplanted by his voice as each light jet print is accompanied by an audio recording of the original soundtrack of ‘The Fall of the Twelve Acres Museum’. The soundtrack also includes interviews with Earl Mills and music from a short-lived emo-core band from the area. It is a meditation on alienation and connection, and the potential for meaningful co-habitation between peoples.
Dapper Bruce Lafitte’s drawings use a different form of storytelling. They are filled with bustling crowds and inscribed with notes and names, often depicting his hometown of New Orleans. T.D.B.C. Presents Put the Guns Down Said the Col. (2017) shows a crowd standing outside the Ernest N. Morial Convention Centre, where thousands were evacuated after hurricane Katrina; armed soldiers and television crews stand between us and the herded escapees, interspersed with inscriptions like ‘RIP Bobby Blue Bland’.
The recent 2020 drawings, made during the COVID-19 lockdown, present vividly colored portraits of Mardi Gras Indians, a cultural staple of New Orleans parade culture and multiracial crowds drawn in full color carrying white coffins, with titles ranging from “Anti Lie,” “Pass It On,” “Poor Folks,” and “Amerikkka.” In contrast, “Thump”, as Donald Trump is renamed in the Dapper’s signature lexicon, appears at his bully pulpit, starkly un-colored, spouting his media hate speech. In stark vignettes Klansmen abut white police officers pointing guns at African-Americans, brutal depictions of ever-mounting racist violence. As always, Dapper Bruce Lafitte, stuck at home, remains a keen observer of the cultural realities both in New Orleans and in the US at large.
Dapper Bruce Lafitte grew up in the Lafitte Housing Development in the 6th Ward of New Orleans. He took the name Lafitte to acknowledge the huge impact that this community has had on his life and art. This inspiration is also apparent in vibrantly detailed drawings chronicling his life in New Orleans. While Bruce tackles the gritty subjects of poverty and racism, his art also documents the joyful parts of his life in the city, revelling in colour, pattern and rhythm.
In response to the murder of George Floyd, 10% of the proceeds from the exhibition will be donated to the New Orleans Safety and Freedom Fund, a community based nonprofit that combats the harms of incarceration by paying bail for low-income individuals who cannot otherwise afford it.
London Collective on Vortic Collect
London Collective is a new section on the Vortic Collect app, bringing together 40 of the UK’s leading commercial galleries to present exhibitions on the new extended reality app for the art world.
London Collective consists of 40 art dealers and gallerists who came together in recognition that this is a defining moment of change in how art is accessed. Whilst a number of London galleries have recently reopened, travel and other restrictions mean many people are still unable to visit exhibitions in person.
In the London Collective section of the Vortic Collect app, galleries will show specially curated presentations, providing them with an additional virtual space to complement their physical gallery programmes.
The new initiative enables galleries to support one another by sharing their audiences and enables visitors to simulate the experience of visiting multiple London gallery locations.
The Vortic Collect app is available to download from the App Store and the Vortic VR app will be available for download from the Oculus Store from late summer 2020.
Jeremiah Day (USA, 1974) Lives and works in Berlin
Defining an artistic praxis that resides between the performing and visual arts, Day is concerned in particular with moments of memory and civic action. He has developed a highly specific vocabulary, one that is dense and multilayered, but also highly improvisatory. While performance remains central to his work, Day also incorporates photographs, drawings, slides, texts, and objects into his projects. Working consistently along the boundary between personal experience and larger historical and political contexts, Day’s performances take us from antiwar cafes in Kaiserslautern to New England town meetings. His installations resemble patchwork shrines in which politics and landscapes exert reciprocal influences – from the underground economy in Istanbul, where Day once lived, all the way to Carl-Schurz-Straße in Karlsruhe.
Recent exhibtions include: BAK, Utrecht, NL (2017); Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw, PL (2016); Ellen de Bruijne, Amsterdam, NL (2016); Universität der Künste, Berlin, DE (2016); Grundy Art Gallery, Blackpool, UK (2016); Woods Hole Community Hall, Woods Hole, US (2016); Ruler, Helsinki, FI (2016); Grüner Salon, Volksbühne, Berlin, DE (2016); Deutsch – Russisches Museum, Berlin, DE (2016); CCA, Glasgow, UK (2015); MAXXI, Rom, IT (2015); Studio Stad, Maastricht, NL (2015); Liverpool Biennial, Liverpool, UK (2014); Arnolfini, Bristol, UK (2014); Santa Monica Museum of Art, Santa Monica, USA (2014); Centre George Pompidou, Paris, FR (2014).
In 2019–2020, Jeremiah Day holds a Post-Doctoral Fellowship at Uniarts Helsinki’s Center for Educational Research and Academic Development in the Arts (CERADA), developing an investigation into the teaching and facilitating models that emerge from the intersection of dance and visual art.
Dapper Bruce Lafitte (USA, 1972) Lives and works in New Orleans, LA
Dapper Bruce Lafitte grew up in the Lafitte Housing Development in the 6th Ward of New Orleans. This community has inspired his art so much that he has taken the name Dapper Bruce Lafitte (formerly Bruce Davenport, Jr.) to acknowledge its impact on his life. This inspiration is also apparent when you view Bruce’s vibrantly detailed drawings chronicling his life in New Orleans. While Bruce is not shy about tackling the gritty subjects of poverty and racism, his art also documents the joyful parts of his life in the city.
Dapper Bruce Lafitte is an artist whose work is capable of breaking down the partition which separates folk art from fine art once and for all. These are big issues: how we define and reduce our culture through effete catch phrases and ineffective oppositions like fine versus folk, outsider versus insider, trained versus self-taught or vernacular. All these characterizations ring hollow today. They are fraught with the prejudices and contradictions of class and racial manipulation, no less so when they are deployed in the study of the liberal humanities. Lafitte escapes these confines in several ways. Through his connection to the street, public art and community rebuilding, he has focused on his local sub-cultures and folk-cultures, with the mind of a contemporary urbanist.
His works have been exhibited nationally and internationally, notably in the Prospect Biennial, New Orleans and in solo shows at the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum, Biloxi, MS; Atlanta Contemporary (curated by Daniel Fuller); Vacant Gallery, Tokyo; Fierman, New York, NY; and Louis B. James Gallery, New York, NY. Group exhibitions include those at the New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans, LA; Ballroom Marfa, Marfa, TX (curated by Dan Cameron); Lambent Foundation, New York, NY; the Hickory Museum of Art, Hickory, NC; among others. In 2009, he was a recipient of a Joan Mitchell Foundation artist award.