October 9–November 5, 2017
Through a progressive sequence of (un)dress set to the lively tune of “El Pito (I’ll Never Go Back to Georgia)” (1965), Jefferson Pinder’s Marathon shows the artist’s frenetic movement across space—first in the “natural” landscape and then in the “urban” cityscape. However, his “progression” delineates time strangely: sometimes he runs impossibly fast while at other moments his pumping arms and only pantomimes running. Through this gesture, the artist comments on the impact racial tensions and anxieties have on the movement of Black subjects. Pinder’s formal framework alters the tenor of bodily labor termed “marathon” from pure athleticism into a frantic scramble for survival. Similarly, his “evolution” of dress as he moves from the natural into the urban performs the absurdity of the historical primitivization of Blackness as backwards, “natural” and sedentary. Performing motionlessness through motion and timelessness through time, Pinder attempts to embody the temporal paradox and commodification of Black labor: disavowed just as it is enforced. Therefore, his sudden—yet anticipated—slow-motion crash in the final scene painfully and mournfully rescripts the jaunty verse “I’ll never go back to Georgia, I’ll never go back” by pluralizing its potential meanings, historically but also presently.
Written by Conor Moynihan, curatorial graduate assistant, UB Art Galleries