M Lamar: Funeral Doom Spiritual
ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives at the USC Libraries
909 West Adams Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90007
April 15 – July 30, 2016
A resonant blackness arrives first in Funeral Doom Spiritual, M Lamar’s multichannel film and symphonic installation at ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives. Music is heard overhead and in coordinated headphones, the operatic notes of M Lamar reach out like choral tentacles wrapping themselves around the looping projections and television screens on each wall. It is a type of cacophonic siren experience in which M Lamar is the journeying form mapping an epiphenomenal blackness. M Lamar, a self-described Negrogothic Devil worshipping free black man in the blues tradition, is a classical singer, performance artist, and metal black goth. His art queries the black male queer body, abjection, being, and whiteness-as-desire/violence via musical composition and video. With Funeral Doom Spiritual desert scapes, white supremacist desires, prison cells, and enduring black life echo back on each screen. M Lamar appears as the sojourn figure in each film, alive/dead/resurrected concurrently. In this visual scape and with the sonic richness abounding throughout, M Lamar incants a type of non-linear liminal realm in which black life is not only found but also subsists.
M Lamar’s Funeral Doom Spiritual is a rumination on the state of black life. That to be black is, in some sense, a performance of incessant bereavement entwined with a wistful persistence for imminent life. M Lamar locates the fact of death within the historical and ongoing violence of white supremacy and western imperialism via the six black and white films, which loop and rebound upon each other. Veiled behind the bars of a jail cell or walking towards the gallows M Lamar situates the abjection and violence in relation to watching, shirtless, white male bodies. Their gaze is met with recognition in the form of a black bullwhip and M Lamar’s gothic aesthetic that is wielded as phallus, fantasy, desire, and death all at once. These scenes play out in relation to the two larger projections in which the coffin is at the center. In one we look over a smoking casket and watch M Lamar emerge, survey the scene, and quietly lie down again. In the opposite projection M Lamar and another black subject appear sequentially dragging a coffin across a barren landscape, momentarily stopping and viewing the emptiness inside. Yet, we are urged through the rich and booming sonic realm that never ceases to distend, that blackness and black subjectivity is something between the states of the physical/historical/present and the aural/psychic/future.