Originally scheduled to open in conjunction with Pride Month, Summer Jade Leavitt’s new multimedia installation in the Project Room II, Language is Leaving Me explores the pain people carry in their mouths through language. The work examines how thoughts, identities, and self-expression can reflect the wounds created by a heteropatriarchal state even when unintended or unrecognized. When we carry patriarchy’s language, systems, stories, thought processes in us, its power recreates itself. Language is Leaving Me seeks to provide a space for one to disown this language, untangle these systems, locate their wounds and excavate them in the search for a joyful future.
A pink dentist’s chair and a glowing stage--an homage to Felix Gonzalez Torres 1991's Untitled (Go-Go Dancing Platform)--are at the center of Summer Jade Leavitt’s new multimedia installation, Language is Leaving Me. The dentist’s chair evokes an experience of being unable to talk, an invasion of space, pain, numbness, and something put in or removed from the mouth. Repurposed karaoke videos and their subtitles function as ready-made texts, a reflection of the artist's once weekly visits to a gay dive bar for karaoke, creating a rehearsal space of identity, of being, becoming, imitating, mutating. Like a ritual, the artist would spend a week with their feelings, and select a song that could offer a ceremony of speaking that reality into the world and releasing it. A liberating performance of desire, of calling, calling out, of where and who. A rehearsal space of identity, of being, becoming, imitating, mutating.
Juxtaposing power dynamics between spaces of freedom and those of voicelessness and bodilessness, the work utilizes language as a tool and an expression of one’s sense of power and autonomy.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Summer Jade Leavitt is an artist and writer working to figure out what a queer future looks like. Through text, photo, artifacts, and video, they approach everyday life as a site for performance, documenting gestures large and small to archive and historicize them. Looking at pop culture, history, music videos, film, and theory, they aim to confuse lineages and authenticity. Their performative existence is a sci-fi documentary: all real, all fake. They seek to locate origins of trauma and excavate them from the body, creating space for all that has been lost, and all that is yet to come.
Summer Jade Leavitt's publications include Mad Girl's Crush Tweet, published by Headmistress Press; "Carol" published by Poets.org; and "Carol", "Carol Too", "Remains", and "This is Not Fiction", published by The Oakland Review. Leavitt's work has been exhibited at many galleries and museums nationwide, with recent exhibitions including: Possible Bodies, Phosphor Project Space, Pittsburgh, PA (2019); Nearest Neighbors, Powder Room, Pittsburgh, PA (2019); Headmistress Press AWP reading at Like Nobody's Business, Portland, OR (2019); The Self, Realized: Queering the Art of Self-Portraiture, Brew House Association, Pittsburgh, PA (2019); Ten Futures, 937 Gallery, Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, Pittsburgh, PA (2019); Erotica Night, Bunker Projects, Pittsburgh, PA (2019); Matter & Memory Group Show, The Factory at Bard, Berlin, DE (2018); Dot Gov, Miller Institute of Contemporary Art, Pittsburgh, PA (2018); ephemera, Future Tenant, Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, Pittsburgh, PA (2018); Erotica Night, Bunker Projects, Pittsburgh, PA (2018); We Have a Future, Perhaps, The Frame at Carnegie Mellon, Pittsburgh, PA (2017); "Untitled (Making Myself into a Monument)", Pittsburgh Performance Art Festival, Pittsburgh, PA (2017); The Kitchen Sink, 3577 Studios, Pittsburgh, PA (2017); Power & The Soul, The Frame at Carnegie Mellon, Pittsburgh PA (2017); Be Somebody With A Body, The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA (2016); Nightmare, The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA (2016); From The Dream To The Cosmos, The Frame at Carnegie Mellon, Pittsburgh, PA (2016); Stairwell Show, School of Visual Arts, New York, NY (2014); Scholastic Gold Key Winners, Miami Art Museum, Miami, FL (2013); Senior Showcase, Artseen, Miami, FL (2013); Works of Eight, New World Gallery, Miami, FL (2011); Fluxus, Culture Center, Chicago, IL (2011); Showcase, Grossman Gallery, Boston, MA (2011).
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