Dion “TYGAPAW” McKenzie: 3WI

Dion “TYGAPAW” McKenzie: 3WI

Art Omi

Photo: Guarionex Rodriguez, Jr.

November 14, 2023
Dion “TYGAPAW” McKenzie
November 18, 2023–February 18, 2024
Art Omi
1405 County Route 22
Ghent, NY 12075
United States
Hours: Monday–Sunday 9am–5pm

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3WI is the first institutional solo exhibition of Dion “TYGAPAW” McKenzie (b. Mandeville, Jamaica), and premieres a newly commissioned installation combining video, sound, and performance. 3WI, or Third World Immigrant, reclaims the term “third world,” first coined by French anthropologist Alfred Sauvy in 1952 to connect class struggles in France to the political and economic struggles of people in colonized countries. McKenzie uses the phrase “third world immigrant” to describe their migration from Jamaica to the United States and to point to the invisible structures that restrict movements of people from historically colonized countries. 3WI invites its audience to think deeply about the history and meaning which saturate the musical figures, timbres, timing, and sounds that comprise McKenzie’s durational artworks. Through intentional engagement with these formal elements as well as the critical and historical discourse surrounding techno, 3WI levels an important critique of the ways in which the flow of cultural capital in a globalized gig economy often replicates broader systems of disenfranchisement, transphobia, and racism. The foregrounding of sonic and performance work in the exhibition reflects the ability of these disciplines to transform physical and discursive space while modeling new modes of interaction and understanding. 

Informed by McKenzie’s experiences touring the world as a DJ and electronic music producer, the exhibition’s centerpiece is a live solo performance with modular synthesizer and drum machine, taking place in Art Omi’s Newmark Gallery during the opening of the exhibition on November 18, 2023 (RSVP here). An audio recording of the performance will be played back in the gallery throughout the run of the show, accompanied by video documentation of the event as well as an earlier live performance in Brooklyn. McKenzie’s durational performances use the formal language of electronic music to respond sonically to questions of access, migration, mindful listening, and historical erasure—questions raised by the positionality of techno on the global stage.

Originating in the Black, queer, and trans communities of Detroit and its surrounding suburbs in the early 1980s, techno became popular in European metropoles such as Berlin and London in the 1990s and, by the end of the decade, was recognized around the world. The genre draws  on a variety of influences including disco, funk, and European electronic groups such as Kraftwerk, spawning countless localized variants. The global migration of techno in many ways mirrors McKenzie’s own personal journey as a Jamaican immigrant to the United States and an internationally recognized musician and artist. McKenzie’s singular style reflects the ways in which techno has been hybridized and recontextualized, and references classic techno tropes while incorporating a range of musical influences. Techno—simultaneously a commodity in the nightlife economy and a hugely influential musical form connected to a rich lineage of Black music—is uniquely suited to frame an examination of how culture is instrumentalized, historicized, marketed, and celebrated. 

Dion “TYGAPAW” McKenzie: 3WI will feature a series of talks with writers and musicians exploring the critical discourse around techno, hosted by Montez Press Radio. These talks will provide context for the exhibition by mapping both the history and conceptual concerns of techno as an art movement, as well as current efforts to historicize the music in academic and art world circles. 

Curated by Guy Weltchek, Curatorial Assistant.

RSVP for Dion “TYGAPAW” McKenzie: 3WI
Art Omi
November 14, 2023

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