New Commission "FuryZ" presented as part of Block Universe 2018
Reliance Square, 29 New Inn Yard, London, EC2A 3EY
Sunday, 27 May 2018, 9pm
From TANK Magazine by Aida Amoako:
"Jamila Johnson-Small (also known as Last Yearz Interesting Negro) presented FuryZ at Reliance Gallery. The space resembled a nightclub in which Johnson-Small is the only dancer. Weaving in and out of the crowd, stepping over feet and between bodies, she danced in stuttering and jerky movements, seemingly aware but uncaring of the audience’s presence until she asked a man if she could step on his back to reach a platform. The lighting (by Jackie Shemesh) evoked Wolfgang Tillmans’ Lights (Body), which presents the club as an otherworldly space, the lights seeming to dance with the dust in their glare, the flecks of dead skin becoming the only marker of human presence. Johnson-Small dances in the neon light. At one point, eyes closed, she gyrates and quakes atop a podium to the instrumental of Nicki Minaj’s “Beez in the Trap”. Dancing is conveyed as a meditative and transcendent activity that takes an immaterial part of you into another space, or more accurately, takes Johnson-Small into another space. We are not invited. We can only watch from afar.
For Johnson-Small, dance can be “a radical social proposition”. In a previous work, Project O – a collaboration with Alexandrina Hemsley – the artist addresses the over-sexualisation of black female bodies. At Block Universe performance, Johnson-Small danced in front of a projection of a video also titled FuryZ, an abstract collage of clips and audio where the artist’s body is dismembered by close-ups. She becomes a blazon of dancing thighs, wringing hands, collarbones and a disembodied voice for our consumption."
Last Yearz Interesting Negro / Jamila Johnson-Small (b. London, UK), is an artist of Caribbean descent based in London, who works with in-between spaces; with things that exist in and through cracks in time, memory, attention, syncopation, trance states, internal narratives, electronic music and two-step dances, navigating bodies as object, animal, human, machine, environment, and energy to build atmospheric landscapes created by the live unfolding of the tensions between things that produce meaning. Johnson-Small has formed long-term collaborations with other artists including Project O with Alexandrina Hemsley, immigrants and animals with Mira Kautto (2009-2016) and more recently work with Fernanda Munoz-Newsome, HOTLINE with Sara Sassanelli, and GUSH, a semi-regular low-key DIY event. Recent performances have been shown as part of Fierce Festival, Birmingham, UK (2017) and the ICA, London, UK (2018). Upcoming residencies and performances include Wysing Arts Centre, Cambridgeshire, UK; Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France and The Showroom, London, UK (all 2018).