There is a unique restraint in Lay Me Down in Praise, 2022, Justen LeRoy’s a few-channel—and to my brain, 3 chapter—video installation at Artwork + Exercise (the clearly show is a collaboration in between A + P and the California African American Museum in Los Angeles). The multidisciplinary LA-born and -raised artist believes that melismas—vocal runs popularized by R&B new music and rooted in the songs of the Black church, which exhibit a singer’s vary and psychological dexterity—have analogs in many geological processes and actions. Yet even with this all-encompassing conceit, it’s noteworthy that the artist is calculated with his metaphors and gildings. In LeRoy’s progressive arrangement of online video portraits and sounds, interpolated with all-natural landscapes—a “Black environmental tactic,” as he conditions it—the earliest sung take note does not surface until the final times of the work’s first chapter.
LeRoy has a unique interest in tunes. For the Hammer Museum’s 2020 edition of Created in L.A., he contributed an audio collage, On God, 2020, showcasing voice notes from buddies and loved ones, tunes throughout diverse genres, and a range of various sounds, which includes slipping rain and the trill of a dial tone. This piece intimates the day to day noises LeRoy heard at his father’s barbershop escalating up. Lay Me Down is a continuation of this collage get the job done, with sourced and primary video footage from LeRoy and a collaborator, artist and filmmaker Kordae Jatafa Henry.
Lay Me Down is most effective absorbed from a place as near to the ground as feasible so that you can feel the vibrations manufactured by the work’s bass. From this vantage, you can see how the screens are arranged about the viewer, like open arms heading in for an embrace. Scenes of waves, shore birds, and people today seated with hands raised heavenward blink into a 2nd chapter of glaciers melting into impossibly blue seas. The initial sung note is expressed like a issue, as although it have been a voice listening to by itself for the very first time. It conveys a little something beyond words and is whole of meaning—maybe the sight of a glacier breaking is the best way to describe it. By the third and final chapter, the melismas are more self-particular and layered. Lava erupts from a volcano. A person’s cradling arms fill the cradling screens. Basaltic magma flows down a slope even though the notes extend on, producing flesh and earth solemnly but strategically converge.