Gypsies' Picnic

July 1st, 2016
Curated by program coordinators Pamela Council and Alison Kuo

Performance by MFA Fine Arts faculty member Jodie Lyn-Kee-Chow

In “Gypsies’ Picnic: The Feast of those gone by” (2015), the artist, Jodie Lyn-Kee-Chow performs rituals in a gown she created out of kitsch Gingham tablecloths typically found in local bargain stores. In this piece she reflects on colonial pastimes, tourism, and leisure activities all based around the concept of spring /summer gatherings. A special New Orleans performance of "Gypsies' Picnic" took place on July 1st, 2016 in several historic locations in the center of the city, and was produced by the MFA Fine Arts program as a part of a series of events that took place during the city's annual Essence festival. 

Starting in Jackson Square, Lyn-Kee-Chow made a tribute to the three slaves who were publicly lynched there by balancing a basket of apples on her head and then spilling it to the ground to reveal three apples hanging from the tree above her. She then led a procession of those who had come to witness her performance through the French Quarter towards Congo Square in Louis Armstrong Park. Congo Square is known for having been a gathering place for free and enslaved Africans where they could socialize and sell goods at market, a practice made necessary by the failing business practices of Louisiana plantation owners. The artist stood in the square balancing a heavy basket of fruit on her head for as long as she could endure before dragging the basket across the square, smashing a coconut on the flagstones, and exiting the grounds. For her third action, she occupied the "neutral ground" outside Cemetery Nº 1 and pushed roses into the grass around the hem of her dress while incorporating a gesture of twirling and bowing to the ancestors. "Neutral grounds," which also go by the term "medians" in other parts of the country, historically were neutral meeting grounds for different groups of people in New Orleans. The artist visited additional sites including the Tomb of the Unnamed Slave and Cemetery Nº 3 to dedicate her performance to the ancestors who were slaves.

About the artist:

Born 1975 in Manchester, Jamaica, SVA MFA Fine Arts faculty member Jodie Lyn-Kee-Chow is an interdisciplinary artist with a BFA from New World School of the Arts, University of Florida, and an MFA from Hunter College, City University of New York. Her work has been shown nationally and internationally in group exhibitions and she frequently participates in performance art festivals held in the US and Asia. She makes performance and installation art which draws from the nostalgia of her homeland, the commodified imagery of Caribbean primitivism, folklore, fantasy, consumerism, spirituality and nature’s ephemerality. Jodie Lyn-Kee-Chow is based in Queens, NY. 

MFA Fine Arts would like to thank Lydia Nichols for her assistance in researching the locations for this performance.‚Äč

All photos by Pamela Council and Alison Kuo. The performance "Gypsies' Picnic" is registered with the US Copyright Office by the artist Jodie Lyn-Kee-Chow.