Jeremy Toussaint-Baptiste: Set It Off
Set It Off is a multi-site exhibition by Jeremy Toussaint-Baptiste. This exhibition consists of two variations of a monumental, immersive, sonic sculpture installed across both sites. At the ICA, you are invited to enter two large-scale black cubes made of wood, polyethylene, and tinted glass, and at 1708 Gallery, visitors will encounter a black square pool built of similar materials. Each structure uniquely incorporates the circulation of water from the James River, reminding us to consider our bodies as mediums for environmental pollutants.
Since the 1980s, music has been used to push the limits of car audio and sound systems. Music genres like Bounce, Miami Bass, synth bass, and trap intensify cars, clubs, and their surrounding areas. Inescapable in many U.S. cities, bass produces deep affinities but also aversions and sensitivities. While some are conditioned to enjoy the impact of excessive bass, others are given no choice but to experience its intensity. Set It Off intends to shake the room, using the car audio system as the most recognizable transmitter of bass.
Using sonic frequencies that register just below human audibility, the installations provide a series of site-specific experiences for sound to be deeply felt. Coursing through Set it Off is a resistance to predetermined representations of Black American experiences, which is most often simplified as either a victim of violence and oppression or worse, as absent, static, and universal from selective omission throughout history. Toussaint-Baptiste invites visitors to deeply engage with the site, considering the implications of sound, visibility, and performance.
Set It Off is co-curated by ICA Curator Amber Esseiva and Park C. Myers, the Royall Family Curator at 1708 Gallery.
Jeremy Toussaint-Baptiste (b. 1984, Baton Rouge, LA) is a New York-based artist, composer, and performer. His work considers notions of errant relations that thrive across subjectivities. Toussaint-Baptiste was a 2021 Sound Artist-in-Residence at Bemis Center For Contemporary Art and received a Bessie Award in 2018 for Outstanding Music Composition and Sound Design. He has presented visual and performance work at MoMA PS1 (New York); Performance Space New York; the Brooklyn Museum; the Kitchen (New York); Issue Project Room (New York); the Studio Museum in Harlem; and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Toussaint-Baptiste is a founding member of the performance collective Wildcat! and holds an MFA from Brooklyn College’s Performance and Interactive Media Arts program.
Set It Off is co-curated by ICA Curator Amber Esseiva and Park C. Myers, the Royall Family Curator at 1708 Gallery. Special thanks to the Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation.
Material Qualities of Sound: Jeremy Toussaint-Baptiste Interviewed by Jareh Das
Jun 9, 2022
Toussaint-Baptiste’s current exhibition, Set It Off, addresses affective and relational possibilities of sound through the perspectives of minimalism and a resistance to predetermined representations of Black American experiences by favoring instead abstract visual and sonic expressions of Blackness.
Jeremy Toussaint-Baptiste: Bass is Touch
Feb 22, 2022
In his exhibition Set It Off, Jeremy Toussaint-Baptiste investigates the relationship between sound, Black cultural traditions, and the body
The Virginia museum spotlighting overlooked histories & perspectives
The Art Newspaper
Jan 21, 2022
In a trio of current and upcoming exhibitions, the Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University will showcase prints, paintings and a sonic environment that champion underrepresented narratives.
A new publication was produced on the occasion of Set It Off, a multi-site exhibition by Jeremy Toussaint-Baptiste. This publication takes the form of a black square, pointing towards the artist’s ongoing engagement with representations of blackness and minimalism. Since the opening of Set It Off in the fall of 2021, the publication has expanded to include contributions by artists, curators, poets, and historians.
Intentionally cumulative, empty black pages within the publication await text-inserts by Kodwo Eshun, Nikita Gale, Ebony L. Haynes, Benjamin Krusling and the exhibition’s curators Amber Esseiva and Park C. Myers. The publication also includes original scores by Toussaint-Baptiste, reference images, and quotes compiled by the artist all of which inform underlying concepts in this exhibition and his continued practice. Material and formal considerations were made to communicate the exhibition’s association with car audio culture like the addition of black window tint and the dimensions of a CD cover insert.
The publication was designed by the ICA’s Creative Director Meredith Carrington, in collaboration with the artist and curators. The final version of this publication including all contributions will be available in-gallery at the ICA the week of June 1 in anticipation to Jeremy’s closing performance . . and drive (far away) on Friday, June 10 and the exhibition’s closing on June 19.