Past exhibition
Justin Thompson
September 19 - November , 2013
Press release

Heel Tap

Justin Randolph Thompson

19 September- 19 November 2013

Heel Tap is a sound based sculptural installation and performance that explores rhythmic servitude, human powered technology, the rhythmic roots of Spanish folk music and the historic African American involvement in the Spanish Civil War.

The entire work of the artist is a look over the African American myths that represent his roots.

The leitmotiv inside all the installations is the sound and the rhythm that is very important for every culture and has magical ritual effects.

For the African Americans the rhythm is essential in life and it’s part of its own culture.

Inside every work of the artist the functional is a fundamental aspect as well: the hurdy gurdy, for example, has its interest in being driven by the human body with an action that reminds of slavery.

The installation revolves around 3 dominant elements: a rotating music stand/hurdy gurdy, an amplified floor tap performance booth and a pile of quilted speaker tubes with a sound work.

The centerpiece of the exhibition is a large kinetic sculpture that emits sound. Based on the ancient instrument, the hurdy gurdy, the sound becomes the base for a sound work composed in collaboration with Jason Thompson created for three saxophones, based loosely on Alan Lomax’s recordings in Spain. The terra cotta top piece is a tangled composition of three figures, based on Blackamoor furniture. Each figure holds a music stand composed of reclaimed wood fragments.

The second element of the installation is a tap performance booth with an amplified floor. This structure hides the performer body but not his head while amplifying the sound of his tapping and distorting it to sound like gunfire. The façade of the booth serves as panels for the wheat pasting of documents, which consist of prints of a children’s book (“The First Book of Rhythms”) of the Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes and will be ritualistically wheat pasted to the surface during the performance.

The paintings, painted in shoe polish on paper, have the shape of mats that snipers use in combat and the images are drawn from mixtures of propaganda posters from the Spanish Civil War and images of “American progress “ painted by José María Sert in New York.

Another element of the exhibition is a small pile of quilted speaker tubes, made of patchwork that remind of the African American tradition. Taking their form from a pile of cut palm tree wood, these quilted surfaces become the coverings for small subwoofers that will echo a sound work based on the sound of historic performances of tap dance. It consists in a pile of military berets hand quilted from fragments of American quilts.

Justin Randolph Thompson is a sculptor and new media artist born in Peekskill, NY in ’79. Living between Italy and the US since 2001, he has exhibited internationally and participated in numerous residencies in the US and in Europe. A recent recipient of the 2013 Fundacion Marcelino Botin Becas, a 2013 Emerging Artist Fellowship at Socrates Sculpture Park , a Foundation for Contemporary Art Emergency Grant, the Open Studio Fellowship at Franconia Sculpture Park, a past Jerome Fellow and a resident at the Taller of Jannis Kounellis at the Fundacion Marcelino Botin in Santander, Spain. Thompson had a recent solo project at the Blue Star Contemporary Art Museum in San Antonio and at the Cuchifritos Gallery in New York City and a recent screening at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Forthcoming projects include solo exhibitions at the Wein Gallery in Corpus Christi .