Jimmy Robert: Imitation of Lives
Duration: 50 minutes
Friday, November 3, 4:00pm (Sold out)
Saturday, November 4, 2:30pm, 4:30pm, 6:30pm (Sold out)
Sunday, November 5, 12:30pm, 2:30pm, 4:30pm (Sold out)
In Imitation of Lives, Bucharest-based French artist Jimmy Robert occupies Philip Johnson’s Glass House, turning the modernist icon into a stage for an intimate performance that delves into the intersections of architecture, visibility, and black representation. Inspired by Jeff Wall’s essay Dan Graham’s Kammerspiel (1988), Robert draws on the house’s reflective qualities to devise a work for three performers engaged in a subtle game of looking and being looked at in turn.
In previous works, Robert has explored the politics of spectatorship by reworking seminal avant-garde performances in ways that complicate their racial and gendered readings. For this new performance, poetry and music are merged into a “live collage” that includes a new painting by Lucy McKenzie, and references to Harlem Renaissance cabaret singer Jimmie Daniels, who was once romantically involved with Philip Johnson; Samuel Beckett’s Quad (1981); David Hammons’ In the Hood (1993); lyrics by Josephine Baker; and texts by Jayne Cortez, Marguerite Duras, Audre Lorde, and Lorenzo Thomas. Robert’s layered performance turns the Glass House into an arena where exposure, representation, and power can be thought anew.
Imitation of Lives is co-curated by Cole Akers (The Glass House) and Charles Aubin (Performa), and co-commissioned by Performa and The Glass House for Performa 17.
The performance is supported by the Performa Commissioning Fund and FUSED (French U.S. Exchange in Dance), a program of the New England Foundation for the Arts-National Dance Project and the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in New York in collaboration with FACE (French American Cultural Exchange), with lead funding from Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Florence Gould Foundation, the French Ministry of Culture and Communication, and private donors. Additional support provided by Andy Romer. This project has been selected and supported by the patronage committee for the arts of the FNAGP.
Jimmy Robert (b. 1975, Guadeloupe, France), trained in visual arts at Goldsmiths in London and the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam, currently lives and works in Bucharest, Romania. His oeuvre encompasses performance, photography, film, video, and drawing. Robert has exhibited at WIELS in Brussels, Palais de Tokyo in Paris, and the Dakar Biennial. Recent solo exhibitions include Museum M in Leuven (2015), The Power Plant in Toronto (2013), and MCA Chicago (2012). In 2014, as part of MoMA’s James Lee Byars retrospective, Robert performed The Mile-Long Paper Walk (1965), a performance initially danced by Lucinda Childs.
Performers: NIC Kay, Jimmy Robert, and Quenton Stuckey
Painting: Loos / De Bruycker marble (2017) by Lucy McKenzie
Costume design: Carmen Secareanu (robes) and Regina M. Rizzo (t-shirts)
Voice coach: Emily Kron
Thanks to Felix Burrichter, Ion Dumitrescu, Jason Farago, Davalois Fearon, Mario Gooden, Matthias Mau, Tom McDonough, Ben Pryor, and Mabel O. Wilson.