Rodney McMillian: From Asterisks in Dockery, 2012

In this Snapshot video we have a look at Rodney McMillian’s installation From Asterisks in Dockery, 2012, a small chapel all in red. The work was exhibited at Art Basel in Basel 2014, in the Unlimited sector. Rodney McMillian was born in 1969 in Columbia, South Carolina. He lives and works in Los Angeles.

Official text: A single-room chapel all in red. Everything is red – walls, pews, pulpit, the kind of cross that reminds one of makeshift plywood grave markers. Rodney McMillian’s hand-sewn installation From Asterisks in Dockery presents us with the estranged interior of a church. Referencing the turn-of-the century architecture of the rural south, such single-room, wooden chapels once functioned as a site for parishioners to worship and release in gospel revivals, a respite from a grueling life of work. The gospel songs were extensions of the hymns that slaves and, later, sharecroppers and migrant workers sang to find respite from brutally oppressive circumstances. The title of this piece refers to the Dockery Plantation in Mississippi, widely regarded as the birthplace of the blues. Dockery was a 10,000-acre cotton plantation where workers such as blues pioneers like Charley Patton, Howlin’ Wolf, and Robert Johnson created the musical form. McMillian’s Dockery, a stitched together and suggestively hued space complicates the notion of a specific birthplace, and suggests deeper, more complex roots for the musical movement. It alludes to the juke joints and clubs where the music was played and enjoyed as well as to the hell of church burnings and fiery sermons.

Snapshot: Rodney McMillian: From Asterisks in Dockery, 2012 Art Basel in Basel, Unlimited sector, June 17, 2014.

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