Geo Wyeth – Quartered (2014)
Geo Wyeth’s 2014 Quartered is an approximately thirty-minute video that brings together experimental approaches to documentary film with 1970s black feminist Southern literature and musical theater. The video is the result of two research trips Wyeth took to Heath Springs, South Carolina, where he was drawn toward what local residents call “sensitivities” or “witches.” There, the artist investigated the legacy of his great-great-great-grandfather: James Marion Sims, a nineteenth-century gynecologist noted for gruesome surgical experimentations on enslaved African-American women. Trained as a musician and songwriter, Wyeth researched his ancestral origins in a purposefully thwarted attempt to reconcile his experience as a biracial, transgender man who is—according to him—often mistaken as white. The video presents the artist as both the omniscient, Robert Stack–like narrator as well as the Shard of Light, a mythological figure who uses the pronoun she/her and wears a gold lamé skirt, a black wig, and a gold Eye of Providence. The Shard travels between various times and places and has suffered an unknown trauma at the hands of Sims, who is both her father and lover. As she inhabits the landscape where Sims lived and worked, she meanders through the rural town and builds bombs.
– Words by Thomas J Lax, curator of performance at MoMA
Geo Wyeth (b. 1984, NYC) lives and works in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Wyeth is an S.P.Y. artist and educator, based in Rotterdam and working in music, performance, narrative sculpture, and video. Their most recent record ATM FM (2020), was recorded in Rotterdam and released through Muck Studies Dept. – a constellational narrative framework, and an imaginary city agent surveying the bottom of low-lying water areas, “looking for stars out of what stinks.” Muck Studies Dept. merges inherited black atlantic american funk and folk poetics with techniques of investigative journalism, culminating in public performance, video, poetry, music, and installation. The project connects mud, water, metal, gas, ass, rocks, coins, extractive industry, deep coloniality, and sensual expression of belonging to that flood. Research areas include New Orleans, New York, and the Netherlands.
Wyeth has shown work at the New Museum, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, MoMA PS1 (Greater New York 2016), Anthology Film Archives, The Studio Museum in Harlem, Dutch National Opera, Triangle France, The Kitchen, TENT, Arsenic (CH), Biquini Wax (CDMX), LA MoCA, New York Live Arts, La MaMa Theatre, Human Resources, The Pyramid Club, Joe’s Pub, and many others. They are co-founder of the queer social space Tender Center in Rotterdam. They have composed original soundtracks for narrative shorts by the artist Tourmaline, including Happy Birthday Marsha! (2018), Atlantic is a Sea of Bones (2017), Salacia (2019), and The Personal Things (2016), as well as the works of many other filmmakers.
The artist was a Rijksakademie resident in 2015-2016, has taught at the Dutch Art Institute (DAI) and the Willem de Kooning Akademie, and in 2021, was awarded the Dolf Henkes Art Prijs, and the Hartwig Foundation Grant. They live and work in Rotterdam NL next to the Maas River.