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Joe Namy’s live projects and exhibitions focus on the social constructs of music and organized sound. For this new work, Disguise as Dancefloor, the Beirut and London-based artist has invited a number of different collaborators to join him “on the dance floor” at the Renaissance Society on one of two consecutive days of improvised performance—each of which will have a different staging and sonic texture.
Disguise as Dancefloor reflects a confluence of influences: the wide range of experiences that can unfold on the dance floor, the subversive politics of bass, and the effects of sound on the body, including healing properties and other alchemical resonances.
At the center of the project, both spatially and figuratively, is a custom dance floor made of copper tiles. Copper is a material that transmits sound and bears a visible trace of every bare foot or hand that touches it, but it’s also a material that has been embraced over time, in various cultures, for its healing effects.
Namy thinks of this copper dance floor as “a super-charged platform.” In this respect, it becomes a physical foundation on which someone can stand or move, and a surface that visibly reveals its own history, but also a shared space that is meant to be activated, a proposal that others can make their own.
By design, Namy’s project is intended be presented repeatedly in different settings. (The Renaissance Society is the second iteration, following one at Portikus in Frankfurt, Germany in February 2022.) In each location, new collaborators from different backgrounds are invited to understand and embody the project in their own ways. At the Renaissance Society, he will be joined by different groups of artists for two weekend performances, lending each evening its own distinct musical palette and feel:
SATURDAY: Zachary Nicol (dance) and Ariel Zetina (DJ and producer)
SUNDAY: Cristal Sabbagh (dance) and Norman W. Long (electronics and field recordings)
“In my practice,” Namy says, “I set out to embrace the unknowns or the magic that occurs when you can’t plan for everything. I use certain parameters or sparse rules of engagement—like the platform itself in this case, which is just a bunch of copper tiles—but you can create many things from that. A kind of trust is key.”
Everyone attending the performances at the Renaissance Society will be offered a small print publication to take home, which gathers insights from some of Namy’s collaborators including Uzma Z. Rizvi, Malak Helmy, Taylor LeMelle, Jaime Llopis, and Brian Kuan Wood in conversation with Xper.Xr. This “score in the form of a book,” as Namy describes it, further explores the project’s underlying ideas, such as the resonance and bodily effects of copper, the connections between clubbing and art, and research into specific frequencies.
Curated by Karsten Lund and Michael Harrison.
This iteration of Intermissions is part of the Consortium Commissions, an initiative of Mophradat, which builds a network of partner museums to produce new works, and it was also staged at Portikus in Frankfurt, Germany, in February 2022.