Charles Prigmore’s Swamp (2018) – documentation of multimedia lecture-performance
Artist statement: "Charles Prigmore’s Swamp" is a multimedia lecture-performance in which I take on the titular character of Charles Prigmore: an emerging interdisciplinary artist who recently moved to New Brunswick, New Jersey to connect with his roots and start a new art gallery. Following in the footsteps of the late-1600s Prigmore colonizers, Charles Prigmore proudly furthers problems of gentrification in his city and cultural appropriation in general. Appropriation also exists on the level of the performance script itself, as I lifted the majority of its contents directly from interviews (e.g. Jordan Wolfson, Jill Medvedow), local news articles (early as 1854), essays (Danto’s “The Artworld”), song lyrics and more, sometimes in full-paragraph chunks. The work uses the traditional podium/audience/projection lecture setup as a starting point, but quickly emerges as a work of theater dependent upon a wide range of edited/live media, including videos, websites and computer interfaces.
I am continually trying to come to a more complete understanding of the privileged sociocultural conditions of my existence as a straight white man in the United States, and the ways in which such conditions affect how I interact with my surroundings, specifically the people and environment of New Brunswick, where I currently live as a college student. That said, Prigmore – a character that has personal anecdotes, interests and concerns uncomfortably similar (and sometimes identical) to my own – contends with these issues in ways I consider to be counterproductive and ignorant, embodying what Ajay Kurian calls our “contemporary pollution” of white victimhood/entitlement.
The central paradox of Charles Prigmore is his identification with the actions and viewpoints my performance aims to critique. The audience will question the truth evaluability of any supposed “real shit” and the distance between myself and Prigmore, especially within the quasi-transhistorical structure of narrative fragments. Throughout the performance, this oscillating state of unknowing becomes an anxiously productive space for the audience to occupy.
Thank you to Steffani Jemison, Erin Keane, Demoie Montego, Erik Thurmond, the rest of our class and everyone who attended the performance.