Ralph Lemon: Scaffold Room
Collaborators: Kevin Beasley, Jim Findlay, Paul Hamilton, Malcolm Low, April Matthis,
Roderick Murray, Naoko Nagata, Okwui Okpokwasili, Omagbitse Omagbemi,
Katherine Profeta, Marina Rosenfeld, Mike Taylor, Philip White, and Ralph Lemon
Walker Arts Center, 2014 (Premier)
Bard College, 2014
The Kitchen, 2015
Ralph Lemon merges performance, visual art, music, and text in his new work Scaffold Room. Lemon calls his latest work a “lecture-performance-musical,” one that refracts ideas of contemporary performance through archetypal black female personae in American culture.
The piece connects three women—Okwui Okpokwasili and April Matthis (performing live) and 86-year-old Edna Carter, along with her extended family (on video). The live performers enact parallel iconic characters that draw from history, popular culture, and science fiction with source materials ranging from Moms Mabley to Amy Winehouse, Kathy Acker to Samuel R. Delany, as they “act out” within and around assumptions about prescribed cultural body politics. The live performance installation is supported by an electronic/turntable-based sound score created and performed by composer Marina Rosenfeld.