FotoFest Exhibitions

Kalup Linzy

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One of the most powerful forms of television communication in the last thirty years has been its video-based outlets for music, such as MTV and VH1. As a result, many artists have begun to unapologetically and successfully cross over between performance artist and musical performer. Kalup Linzy has been at the forefront of this hybridization of commercial and creative endeavors. His SweetBerry Sonnet (Remixed) (2008) is a remixed version of a recent video anthology created to accompany the songs on his 2008 album SweetBerry Sonnet. Performing as his recurring characters (including Taiwan, Labisha, Katonya, Nucuavia, and Jada), Linzy created a music video for each R&B-inspired song on the album, including Dirty Trade, Edge of My Couch and Chewing Gum to name a few. Linzy’s Melody Set Me Free (2007) is a bittersweet story about a small-town contestant in an American Idol-style talent show competition and her quest for fame and stardom. Writes Linzy, “Vying to win a recording contest, they must take a Whitney Houston song and make it their own.” Every stock Hollywood character, from the wide-eyed ingenue to the conniving nemesis, is featured in the video. In Linzy’s Conversations Wit de Churen: As da Art World Might Turn (2006), the artist has taken a funny and melodramatic look at the current state of the art world through the filter of his own recent success. Originally from a small town in Florida, Linzy in this work has assimilated various guises and social codes taken from his humble upbringing where folks always had the television on to watch their favorite soap operas. Linzy’s work is, in fact, inspired by his family’s favorite television shows along with various traditions of black performers in the south.

Kalup Linzy is a video and performance artist based in Brooklyn, New York. Born in Stuckey, Florida in 1977, Linzy received his M.F.A. from the University of South Florida, Tampa in 2003 and also attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine. Linzy has been the recipient of numerous awards including a grant from the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation in 2005, a fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation in 2007, and most recently, a 2008 Creative Capital Foundation grant, a Jerome Foundation Fellowship, and an Art Matters Grant. Linzy’s best-known work is a series of politically charged videos that satirize the conventions of the television soap opera. His works have been included in exhibitions as far ranging as Black Alphabet at The Zacheta National Museum in Warsaw Poland, and Frequency, Thelma Golden’s survey of new art by emerging artists of color at the Studio Museum in Harlem. In 2008, Linzy’s work was included in Prospect.1 New Orleans, New Orleans curated by Dan Cameron; Modern Mondays: An Evening with Kalup Linzy at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Glasgow International: Festival of Contemporary Visual Art, Glasgow, Scotland, and 30 Americans, Rubell Family Collection, Miami.