Lawrence Graham-Brown's Rites of Passage/Sacred Spaces
Summary: Lawrence Graham-Brown confronts religion, sexuality, and blackness in Rites of Passage/Sacred Spaces (2012). Performed as a site-specific work at Judson Memorial Church, Graham-Brown and company engage in ritualistic acts that draw from Afro-Caribbean folklore. The performers use fetish objects and various aromas in the tradition of Obeah--magic, sorcery, and religious practices developed by West Africans enslaved in the Caribbean to ward off misfortune or to cause harm to another—while performing homoerotic gestures. In this rite of passage, the gay black male body becomes both a site of worship and a symbol of resurrection. This queer form of salvation seeks to reverse oppressive doctrines that label homosexuality a sin. Instead, the power of redemption is displaced and reclaimed. These acts work to combat and dispel homophobic ideals in religion, especially in Graham-Brown’s native Jamaica, where Christianity is used to justify the killing and oppression of L.G.B.T.Q. people.
Summary: Lawrence Graham-Brown is a cross-disciplinary artist working in performance, sculpture, painting, and media. As an openly gay Jamaican-American man, Graham-Brown's art practice works to combat homophobia and racism across geographical contexts. He uses his body as canvas to dispel the stigma that queer, intersexed, transgender, indigenous, and people of color routinely face. His artwork has been presented at the Queens Museum; El Museo del Barrio; Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art; Aljira, A Center for Contemporary Arts; Institute of Jamaica; National Gallery of Jamaica; Galeria Homero Massena; Royal West of England Academy; Arnolfini Centre for Contemporary Arts; Galerie Lutz Rohs; and Shanghai Biennial, among other international art venues. Graham-Brown's work has been written about in the New York Times, Huffington Post, Jamaica Gleaner, Art Recognition Culture (ARC) Magazine, Caribbean Art World (CAW) Magazine, and THE ARCHIVE journal of the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art.
Credits: Lawrence Graham-Brown, costume and lighting designer, olfactory notes ; Zac Mosley, Tarra Raye Russo, lighting designers.
Credits: Lawrence Graham-Brown, Rocheford Belluaire, Meechie Harriel, Antonio Crowley, performers.