The Body of the People is a media performance that interweaves iconic language and visual imagery into a poetic discourse concerning current socio-political disruptions that took place Thursday September 29, 2016, from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm at the Old South Meeting House. Created by multimedia artist and educator Jeffrey Baykal-Rollins, with Rex Cadwallader on piano, vocals by Tiffany Jackson, Arti Dixon on drums, and Mike Asetta on bass, the work draws on protests the artist has participated in and documented to create an immersive artwork that questions individual and class representation in the political upheavals taking place in the United States today.
The Body of the People, curated by Lanfranco Aceti, Director of the Arts Administration Program at Boston University, has been commissioned by The Museum of Contemporary Cuts and premiered at the Old South Meeting House in Boston.
For this work of art, the artist has created a series of drawings of protesters and has compiled slogans, mission statements, and manifestos from the major protest movements in the United States today, including Democracy Spring, Democracy Awakening, and Black Lives Matter. From these documents, Baykal-Rollins has created a surreal and poetic text that was delivered as an address and sung by an opera singer for the duration of the performance.
Mixing drawings, installation, music and performative actions, Baykal-Rollins sets the stage for a re-thinking and analysis of what society means and what ‘the body of the people’ stands for, in a political moment in which larger strata of society are disenfranchised, disconnected and isolated both financially and politically.
These questions could not have found a better site than the Old South Meeting House, a place that is both rich in history and at the forefront of efforts to preserve freedom of speech across cultural, political and social divides. The Body of the People matches the genius loci of one of the most important American historical buildings during a fluid and divisive socio-political season.
The event is hosted by the Old South Meeting House in collaboration with the Museum of Contemporary Cuts, BU Arts Initiative, The Awesome Foundation, The Pollination Project and a range of US-based and international partners.
ABOUT OLD SOUTH MEETING HOUSE: Famed as the place where the Boston Tea Party began, the 1729 Old South Meeting House is one of the nation’s most important colonial landmarks and the center for Boston’s protests against British rule in the years leading to the American Revolution. Saved from demolition in 1876 and opened as a museum, today this treasured National Historic Landmark is a non-profit historic site, museum and an active center for public dialogue and free expression in the heart of downtown Boston. Open daily year round, presenting a full schedule of programs and events.
Old South Meeting House
310 Washington Street
Boston MA 02108
A revolutionary meeting place for people and ideas since 1729.
Image: Jeffrey Baykal-Rollins, Document 2 (detail), charcoal on paper, 2016.
Jeffrey Baykal-Rollins is an American multimedia artist and educator, now based in the greater New York City area after living in Istanbul for more than a decade. His “art as social practice,” combines image-making with performance, alternative education, institutional critique, and cultural studies. His performance Flux was choreographed by Ernesto Pujol and showcased at Istanbul Modern Art Museum, in partnership with MoMA and MoMA PS1. He is the director of “Silsila,” a performance art and social sculpture collective, and his work is the subject of a forthcoming monograph to be published by Leonardo Electronic Almanac (MIT Press) in 2017. In 2016 Baykal-Rollins will be a visiting artist at the Center for Visual Arts at Clemson University, in South Carolina. He completed his BFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Glasgow School of Art in Scotland, and holds an MFA from the University of California, Santa Barbara.