Friday, March 13, 2009


Perhaps the best way to understand Kalup Linzy’s brand of performance art is to stay home on a weekday and watch television. Soap operas in particular play a large role in the Linzy oeuvre, with many of his videos and stage shows built around dramatic characters and episodic conceits. Linzy writes, directs, shoots, and performs in all of his videos, and even composes the music. One of them, All My Churen (2003), chronicles the intrigue and tragedy surrounding the Braswell family, who appear as characters in several of the artist’s pieces, with all of its members—male and female, grandmothers and gangstas—played by Linzy himself. He pulls similar double-, triple-, and quadruple-duty in his MTV-style musical clips, assuming the guises of hoary pop divas and baritone R&B cats singing songs about chewing gum and assholes (Linzy originals) with surprising aplomb. His stage work is no less memorable: For a performance produced by Art Production Fund at the Prospect.1 New Orleans Biennial last November, Linzy took the stage in a flat-ironed wig and a shiny Beyoncé-style black bodysuit to perform a rendition of Bobby “Blue” Bland’s “Members Only,” showing off his soulful, honeyed voice, along with a considerable amount of thigh. But what distinguishes him from the maw of other one-man showmen, stand-up hacks, drag queens, and viral videomakers is both the sharpness of the axe that he swings at issues of race, sexuality, gender, class, and performance art itself, and the purely committed, unbridled humor with which he does it. The former has earned the 31-year-old Florida native multiple fellowships and grants from the art establishment, including aGuggenheim fellowship for the 2007–2008 year. And, the latter, of course, has caused the entertainment industry to come calling.

Te read the article in its entirety, click here.