Artist Mette Tommerup's current installation at Locust Projects, "Made by Dusk," which opened Nov. 21, is set for its closing weekend. It has been amazingly active, while socially distanced and safe, during COVID-19. While activations are common during usual, non-pandemic times, Tommerup and Locust Projects have continued programming during the installation at the Design District space, but done so in a way that, while continuing to engage viewers, yet still adheres to restrictions.
During Miami Art Week, the artist invited participants to drip honey on dry ice as one of the activations. Entitled "Liminal," it was an outdoor activation that included video projections, where participants gathered in the gallery's parking lot for four 30-minute performances.
A second was held indoors on Jan. 28 with Mexican-American multi-media artist Danié Gómez Ortigoza. The performance, "To a God.dessUknown" was described by the artist as "the exploration of the process by which divinity unfolds itself from the universal to the individual."
Multidisciplinary artist Loni Johnson's performance and live activation will officially close the show on Saturday, Feb. 13 at 3:33 p.m. Johnson says the synergy of the space for her to create and contribute her own work holds much meaning.
"There is an energy that is here that Mette has created," Johnson says moments after walking through the installation, taking it in for Saturday's activation. "When and Where I Enter" will be livestreamed on Instagram from Locust Projects with a limited audience in attendance because of COVID-19 restrictions. It is free to watch on Locust Projects Instagram Live.
There is an ethereal sense about the large-scale work that lines the walls of the space – a womb like encompassing that invites you a place, which exists in a golden retreat untethered by time.
In fact, the other two exhibitions in the Project Rooms at Locust's Projects interact in perfect tandem to convey the same feeling. After taking in "Made By Dusk," walking into the small darkened rooms in the back of the gallery to take in two video installations bring the experience full circle. While either one can be selected first, Janine Antoni's "Honey Baby" is a good segue. Along with Paula Wilson's powerful "On High," the trio of exhibitions inside Locust Projects all wrap around each other to combine for a seamless tour de force about empowerment and evolution in whatever interpretation that might mean to the viewer.
Inspired by Freya, the Nordic goddess of love, beauty, and transformation, Tommerup says that the sanctuary of "Made By Dusk" should convey a freeing force and a place to reset, to pause for a bit and set an intention. While the installation had been conceived before COVID-19 was a reality, Tommerup was able to create a work that speaks to the current landscape —one that offers an escape and relief during disruptive times.
Johnson says it combines with her own work. "The door opened for me to bring another world, another perspective, remnants from another place," she says.
The title of Johnson's work, "When and Where I Enter," was inspired by Paula Giddings book, which delved into how Black women have transcended racist and sexist attitudes.
Johnson and I discuss a quote in the book, which, while written more than 100 years ago could have been taken from today.
In 1892, Anna Julia Cooper tells a group of Black clergymen, "Only the Black woman can say 'when and where I enter, in the quiet, undisputed dignity of my womanhood, without violence and without suing or special patronage, then and there the whole . . . race enters with me.'
Johnson says that being invited into Tommerup's solo exhibition for the activation is "an entry point that doesn't happen a lot in the art world. For me, I'm excited to be able to manipulate that in which I want to bring from the world that is outside of these doors and into this space."
The multi-disciplinary artist says she has been interested in, and contemplating that, as a Black woman how she is received when she enters a space. "When and how my ancestral memory plays a role in how I enter these places? Does my historical context affect how I enter an existing space?" These are the questions she wants to explore in Saturday's performance.
Then, beyond that, "What am I leaving, what are the traces I leave behind, for other folks that look like me that I leave behind through this work?"
For Tommerup, she views the context of her own work, the rawness of the materials she uses, and the rawness of the space is "a great place for artists to find their soul or to reconnect in some way. Surrendering the space to another artist gives them the opportunity to add a layer of meaning that is vital to their practice," she says.
Johnson recalls a quote that has an unknown author. which has guided her practice. " 'Walk like you have 3,000 ancestors walking behind you.' All of those that allowed for me to be in the present and to also think about those that are coming after me," she says.
The last two performance pieces are the first time Locust Projects has done livestreaming of activating an exhibition. Whether it be livestreamed digitally or in person, Tommerup says that "activating the canvases liberates the work. I hope I can liberate these artists in the space. What I love the most is the unexpected, the unscripted. You don't know what you're going to get until it happens. There's a thrill to that."
"When and Where I Enter," closing performance and activation by Loni Johnson, at "Made by Dusk" installation. Saturday, Feb. 13, 3:33 p.m., Locust Projects. Watch @locustprojects Instagram Live. Join here. Free. Also, exhibition still open through Saturday. By appointment. Click here. Locust Projects is located at 3852 N. Miami Ave., Miami. Call (305) 576-8570 for information.