I’M A GROUCHO MARXIST
“I’m a Groucho Marxist” drew from the history of literally and socially imposed barriers of Atlanta, Georgia’s past. During this three-hour durational performance, I attempted to surmount a massive barricade made out of repurposed trash, scaffolding, playground detritus and broken fences while blindfolded and partially bound. The entire structure was covered in 1044 lbs of peanut butter (1000 lbs were deemed unfit for human consumption and were sourced from southern Georgia.) I licked the peanut butter for hours as I tried to climb the unsupported barricade that rose to sixteen feet up in the air in some places. The soundscape, designed by Jason Butcher, wove together sounds from 1980s children’s television game shows, vintage Atlanta radio commercials, and history texts. The concluding section of the sound was comprised solely of the Rolling Stones “Street Fighting Man,” distorted and elongated over an hour.
As with most of my work, the built-in physical hardship was integral to the project, and this work in particular addressed the difficulty in crossing boundaries. The title “I’m a Groucho Marxist” was a slogan painted on the walls of the Sorbonne by members of the Situationist International during the May 1968 student uprisings in Paris. Situationist International (SI) believed that the history of a city, the story of its successes, failures, and collective life, was essential to modern existence. Fighting against the forces of gentrification, SI held that citizens’ lives were enhanced by an awareness of the events, places, and people that came before. “I’m a Groucho Marxist” was commissioned by Flux Projects Atlanta.