We begin learning the rules of gender performance at birth from the compulsory colors we are dressed in to being told “girls don’t do this” or “boys don’t do that”. Performance art can be an effective tool for exaggerating the performative aspects of gender identity in order to comment on the societal limitations that come with whatever gender box we check off. Jodie Lyn-Kee-Chow and Alberta Whittle are two interdisciplinary artists who utilize performance to comment on many issues, including gender and sexuality.
Jodie invited me to her live/work space in Ridgewood, Queens on a Tuesday evening after work. Appropriately when I went to visit Jodie she was baking banana bread. Both Jodie and Alberta have performed pieces that involve distributing bananas to audience members, though in different contexts.
Jodie’s performance, Crop Killa, “references Jamaica’s once self sufficient agriculture to its economic decline partially due to loans by IMF and the World Bank in the mid 1970’s”. Alberta’s performance, Hustle de Money, is a “critique of the visual language and gender stereotypes dominant in fete [party] posters” in Barbados.
Even though Jodie and I are good friends I learned a lot about her work from this interview. Alberta and I had a long deep conversation about gender performance and the global dangers that women face daily from street harassment to rape and kidnapping.
It was enlightening speaking with both Jodie and Alberta and I have much more footage than I could possibly fit into this video. Hopefully when I edit the full-length documentary it will give viewers an opportunity to get a better sense of these two amazing artists.
Special thanks to kiza, who is based in Serbia and provided the music for this video.
About Jodie Lyn-Kee-Chow:
Born in Manchester, Jamaica, Jodie Lyn-Kee-Chow is a multidisciplinary artist who received a BFA at University of Florida (New World School of the Arts) in 1996. In 2005 she attained an MFA from Hunter College, New York City. Her work has been exhibited and performed nationally and internationally at venues including Exit Art (NYC), Rush Arts Gallery (NYC), Amelie A. Wallace Gallery at SUNY Old Westbury College (NY), Scope Art Fair (FL), The Queens Museum of Art (NY), Third Streaming LLC (NY), Rush Arts Gallery (NYC), Open Contemporary Art Center (Beijing, China), Art Museum of the Americas (Washington, DC), A.I.R. Gallery (Brooklyn, NY), SOHO 20 (NYC), MoCADA (Brooklyn, NY), Grace Exhibition Space (Brooklyn, NY), ‘’Gwangju International Media & Performance Art Festival’’ at the Gwangju Bienalle (Gwangju, SOUTH KOREA) and Edna Manley College for Visual and Performing Arts (Kingston , JAMAICA). She is also a Rema Hort Mann award nominee and a 2012 NYFA Fellow in Interdisciplinary Art.
Through a feminine perspective Lyn-Kee-Chow uses allegories to navigate issues of the body, desire, and nature while weaving in humor, absurdity, and familiar objects. She lives and works in New York City.
About Alberta Whittle:
Alberta Whittle is a Barbadian artist, who graduated from the Masters programme at Glasgow School of Art in 2011. Whilst a student she participating in the exchange programme at Concordia University in Montreal. Since graduating, Whittle completed a commission for the Museum of London, where she presented an interactive installation, referring to migration and displacement. Whittle has undertaken numerous international residencies, including CESTA (Czech Republic), Market Gallery (Scotland), Fresh Milk (Barbados) Collective Gallery (Scotland) and Greatmore Studios (South Africa). She choreographs interactive installations, interventions and performances as site-specific artworks in public and private spaces, including at the Royal Scottish Academy and has exhibited in various solo and group shows in Europe, South Africa and the Caribbean.
In 2013, Whittle has received an award from the Royal Scottish Academy Residencies for Scotland to undertake two residencies at Hospitalfield House and at the Scottish Sculpture Workshop. In 2014, Whittle will be travelling to Norway and Johannesburg for a residency and exhibitions.
She is currently in Cape Town preparing for an exhibition at the Centre for African Studies and participating as a researcher at Joule City’s Artist Incubator Project, focusing on visual and aural culture.