In an era of information overload, deepfakery, media consolidation, and mass surveillance, is it possible to reclaim the transformative potential of alternative media?
This spring, the ICA will launch Test Pattern, a hybrid performance series that invites visiting artists to use the ICA auditorium as an experimental production studio, inspired by the legacy of public access TV and alternative video movements in the US.
Test Pattern kicks off with performances by musician and theorist DeForrest Brown, Jr. (March 25, with madison moore and Alexander Weheliye), new media artist SHAWNÉ MICHAELAIN HOLLOWAY (April 15 with Cake, Ms TNT Impact, Julian Kevon Glover, and Jackie Bishop Wells), and musician, poet, activist, and co-founder of Black Quantum Futurism Moor Mother (June 3, with Ohbliv, Vitche-Boul Ra, justmadnice, and Caitlin Cherry). These artists all share an interdisciplinary approach to performance, an interest in the pitfalls and potential of technology, and a commitment to nightlife as a practice.
During each week-long residency, the artists will collaborate with members of the local community, transforming the ICA auditorium into a space for music, movement, activism, and deep conversations. Each week will culminate in a live performance and broadcast.
Test Pattern presents the public with a unique window into the creative process, to observe rehearsals, participate in live tapings and online streams of the performances, and to later access each episode in its final form.
Test Pattern is curated by ICA Assistant Curator and Producer David Riley.
DEFORREST BROWN, JR.
DeForrest Brown, Jr. is an Alabama-raised, Ex-American rhythmanalyst, writer and representative of the Make Techno Black Again campaign. He produces digital audio and extended media as Speaker Music. His work explores the links between the Black experience in industrialized labor systems and Black innovation in electronic music. He has lectured at Spotify for Artists: Co.Lab, Brown University, Yale University, and has written for Artforum, NPR, Mixmag, and Afropunk. He recently taught a studio course titled (alt) reality at Parsons School of Design | The New School with Jazsalyn Nachelle of black beyond. He was also the inaugural Suzanne Fiol Curatorial Fellow at Issue Project Room, and an artist-in-residence at the Rauschenberg Residency. On Juneteenth of 2020, he released the album Black Nationalist Sonic Weaponry on Planet Mu, and Primary Information will soon publish his first book, Assembling a Black Counter-Culture.
madison moore, Ph.D. (American Studies, Yale), is an artist-scholar, DJ and assistant professor of Queer Studies in the Department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. They are broadly invested in the aesthetic, sonic and spatial strategies queer and trans people of color use to both survive and thrive in the face of rolling catastrophe. His first book Fabulous: The Rise of the Beautiful Eccentric (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2018), offers a cultural analysis of fabulousness as a practice of resistance. Other articles have been published in venues including The Atlantic, Theater, the Journal of Popular Music Studies, and We Can Do Better Than This: 35 Voices on the Future of LGBTQ Rights (Penguin UK), edited by Amelia Abraham. madison has performed internationally at a range of nightclubs, parties and art institutions, including the Perth Festival, Performance Space Sydney, the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, American Realness, Tate Britain, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. madison is currently writing a book titled Dance Mania: A Manifesto for Queer Nightlife. In Summer 2022, madison will be an artist-in-residence at the Santa Fe Art Institute.
Alexander Ghedi Weheliye is professor of African American Studies at Northwestern University where he teaches Black literature and culture, critical theory, social technologies, and popular culture. He is the author of Phonographies: Grooves in Sonic Afro-Modernity (2005), Habeas Viscus: Racializing Assemblages, Biopolitics, and Black Feminist Theories of the Human (2014), Feenin: Black Music and Technology in the Now (forthcoming). Currently, he is working on Black Life/SchwarzSein, which situates Blackness as an ungendered ontology of unbelonging.
SHAWNÉ MICHAELAIN HOLLOWAY
SHAWNÉ MICHAELAIN HOLLOWAY is a new media artist and poet. Known for using sound, video, and performance, Holloway shapes the rhetorics of technology and sexuality into tools for exposing structures of power. She has spoken and exhibited work internationally in spaces like The New Museum (NYC), The Kitchen (NYC), The Time-Based Art Festival at the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, Institute of Contemporary Arts (London), and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. Currently, SHAWNÉ is a 20-21 Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art Queer Theatre & Performance Resident and is teaching across the New Arts Journalism and the Film Video New Media and Animation departments at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Isaac aka Cake is a leatherman of 12 years based out of Virginia. They teach classes on rough body play, tea service, and conflict resolution in Dominant/submissive relationships. They are deeply passionate about making the scene and BDSM in general more accessible to Black people and other POCs through their work with the 757 Spectrum Munch group, their time as a group leader for Richmond TNG, as well as through mentoring and writing. Recently Cake has spent their time exploring the intersection of African spirituality and BDSM.
MS TNT IMPACT
Ms TNT Impact identifies as a masochistic bi femme leather girl who has been active in the kink community since 2016. During her journey, she has attended numerous BDSM conferences throughout the country. She is currently the Vice President of the Mid-Atlantic Onyx Pearls chapter, and has also served in the Memphis Project and the 757 Spectrum Munch, both based in Virginia. When she is not serving, she loves to play. Her kinks include cigar and ash play, rough body impact play, primal play, wax and knife play, and being bitten––with consent of course. She also has a passion for music and her new kink involves singing while involved in a scene.
Kitten is a non-binary transmasc Leatherboi active in the LGBTQ+, BDSM and Leather circles. They enjoy the local scene’s sense of intimacy and are dedicated to making space for support and inclusion among them through frequenting queer spaces and events as well as through their work with the Virginia Anti-Violence Project (VAVP.) In addition to their dedication to community, they are enamored by the art of being in service to others and love the hit shows Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel for their empowering portrayals of queerness. On the weekends, you can catch them fighting (or worshiping!) their own demons in the dungeon.
JULIAN KEVON GLOVER
Julian Kevon Glover is a scholar and artist who graduated with honors from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, holds an MPA from Indiana University and earned a PhD in Black Studies from Northwestern University. Their research focuses on Black/brown queer cultural formations, performance, ethnography, embodied knowledge, performance theory and Black futurity. They were awarded a Franke Fellowship at Northwestern’s Kaplan Institute for the Humanities and their work appears in journals including American Quarterly, Feminist Formations, South Atlantic Quarterly, Souls and Text & Performance Quarterly. In 2019, they were inducted into the Edward A. Bouchet Graduate Honor Society at Yale University and is a longtime member of the ballroom scene. They have also worked with the Grammy award-winning Swedish singer Robyn and appeared in the music video for the title track of her 2018 album Honey. A classically trained cellist, their creative work is multidisciplinary and engages sonic, visual, affective, written and kinesthetic registers with the aim of bringing viewers into critical dialogue with themselves towards psychic, spiritual and interpersonal transformation.
JACKIE BISHOP WELLS
Jackie Bishop Wells graduated from the VCU Graphic Design Program in 2008 with a BA in Fine Arts. She has owned Fallout—Richmond’s Premier Goth Industrial Fetish Nightclub—since 2015 and has been organizing events and working with the BDSM, Leather, LGBTQIA+ and Alternative Communities in the Richmond, Virginia area for over 10 years.
TERRAN WATCH (SOUND DESIGN)
Anthony A. Dunn (aka Terran Wretch) makes music that spans cluttered, noisy industrial adjacent to warm/spacey ambient with synthesizers, drum machines, tape manipulation and vocal performance. His tapes and records have been released on labels such as Sol Y Nieve, Bloodlust!, and Land of Decay. In 2010, Sun Splitter (2008-2015) closed out the farewell show of legendary Chicago DIY venue, The Mopery, drenched in fake blood.
Camae Ayewa (Moor Mother) is a national and international touring musician, poet, visual artist, and workshop facilitator. She is a vocalist in three collaborative performance groups: Irreversible Entanglements, Moor Jewelry, and 700 Bliss. As Moor Mother, she released her debut album Fetish Bones to critical acclaim in 2016. Since then, Camae has released multiple albums each year, working with frequent collaborators, Olof Melander, Mental Jewelry, and billy woods. Her latest work, Black Encyclopedia of the Air, came out in September 2021 on ANTI- Records. Camae has facilitated workshops at Cornell University, MOFO Festival, Moogfest, Black Dot Gallery, among others. She is the co-founder of the multidisciplinary collective Black Quantum Futurism (BQF), co-founder and curator of Rockers! Philly, and has been an Artist-in-Residence at West Philadelphia Neighborhood Time Exchange and WORM! Rotterdam residency. Camae is a Pew Fellow (2017), a The Kitchen Inaugural Emerging Artist Awardee (2017), and a Leeway Transformation Awardee.
Bradford Caudle, better known by his stage name Ohbliv, is an American record producer from Richmond, Virginia. He is best known for his work with Nickelus F, and the two have released the mixtapes Yellow Gold and Yellow Gold 2. Ohbliv is also known for his beattapes published through Bandcamp, having released over thirty since 2009. He also records under several aliases, such as Bradford Thomas, and Dark Twaine. Several of his beat tapes have been released in physical format, primarily on cassette and vinyl and released through labels Thrash Flow and Fat Beats. In 2016, he was one of four producers featured in Fat Beats’ Baker’s Dozen series.
Vitche-Boul Ra is a Transhumanist Folk-Theurgist with a BFA in Interdisciplinary Fine Arts from The University of the Arts. To develop a physicalized performance practice adjacent to western sculpture, It also studied dance in the UArts School of Dance directed by Donna Faye Burchfield. In Philadelphia, It has shown solo and collaborative works at The Philadelphia Museum of Art, Vox Populi Gallery, Little Berlin Gallery, and Hightide Gallery. In New York, Ra performed in Fridman Gallery’s 5th Anniversary Festival and was curated into the Center for Performance Research’s Spring Movement Festival 2018 as well as the New Dance Alliance’s 2019 Performance Mix Festival: 33. In 2021 It has collaboratively worked alongside Moor Mother (Goddess) showing at Pace Gallery (NY), CalArts REDCAT (LA), and The Kitchen (NY).
justmadnice is an African-Diasporan singer-songwriter currently residing in Philadelphia. From minimalist, delicate, folk tunes to a stage performance that will shake you to your core, justmadnice is entering into an era of experimental sound. While still holding onto their love of minimalism, they are clearly influenced by elements of noise, psychedelic rock, and negro spirituals. Names like Billie Holiday come to mind when you hear their spellbinding vocals and their choice of instrumentation hits right in the pocket of blues and jazz. Brushes on the drums, trumpet in the air, guitar licks coming straight from the gut, justmadnice isn’t interested in sticking to any one genre, but rather creating the sonic world that best communicates their spirit, their song, and that tangible intangible force that connects us all.
Elijah Hall is a multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter with a heavy concentration in cello and vocal performance. A Hampton Roads native, he studied cello performance in Richmond as an undergraduate in VCUarts Department of Music. He has performed at both Carnegie Hall and dive bars with the same enthusiasm and skill. His talents cross disciplines and genres and he hopes to bring his knowledge and ear to this experimental performance piece with Moor Mother. This will be his 3rd collaboration for a performance at the ICA, after Richard Kennedy’s “Touch of Elegance” opera, and Benae Beamon’s “Time Blackened for the Capture of Dawn”, both in 2019.
Caitlin Cherry draws on painting, sculpture and installation in her multifaceted practice, coalescing into articulate and alluring representations of Black femininity. Filtering these media through layers of digital manipulation, her work draws parallels between Black femme bodies, frequently commodified and positioned as sexual assets, and the seductiveness of art objects in the commercial gallery circuit. Cherry is currently Assistant Professor of Painting and Printmaking at Virginia Commonwealth University and the founder of the new online program Dark Study, a contra-institutional space for radical learning about art and theory. Her paintings have been exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum, Performance Space and The Studio Museum in Harlem, among other institutions of note. She is a recipient of a Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Fellowship Residency and Leonore Annenberg Fellowship.