January 2016

keyon gaskin: "its not a thing"

Deep Education

It is in this spirit that I include the work of keyon gaskin (who chooses not to follow the rules of grammar that employ capital letters to designate proper names­­––the properhere being precisely the problem). If Moten provokes a consideration of the ways in which subjectivity itself is bound up with possession, he also instigates a reconsideration of what is lauded as “critical distance.” If the distinction between subject and object has nestled in it a history that justifies seeing land, animals, others, as one’s own, perhaps the very notion of a separate self (a subject) is overdue for scrutiny. keyon gaskin’s video is a form of documenting his contribution (entitled its not a thing) to the “Writing Bodies” exhibition I organized at the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts in New York City in fall 2015. gaskin’s work engages a document-making that is less about a whole picture––a total or totalizing knowledge––than it is about intimacy, failure to see, nearness that obstructs rather than clarifies, complicates. The video is an expression of that nearness, an interrogation of modalities of documenting that insist on clear pictures, on accounts of what was missed. Instead, this work unsettles, undoes, asks what it means, looks like, feels like, to come undone, to see only fragments, to have little or no context. While so often the response of viewers to challenging work is that they “don’t get it,” this work in relation to Moten’s thinking and West’s propositions asks a viewer to draw from their sensory experience rather than their knowledge-territories, considering their viewing process critically rather than reaching for something prescribed or predetermined. If performance documentation frequently tracks the perspective of a viewer, gaskin here explores what a document looks like when it stays close to the body that is doing rather than taking up the position of the ones who watch. This does not allow for the kind of distance that determines traditional performance video. Instead, it includes the mis-takes, the upsets, unsettling the privileging of distance as the only means towards accurate sight.

keyon gaskin is a movement artist who does not care to contextualize their work with their credentials.

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