Exhibition view of  And We'll Have a Real Good Time  at Light Gallery + Studio in Grand Rapids, Michigan

Exhibition view of And We'll Have a Real Good Time at Light Gallery + Studio in Grand Rapids, Michigan

And We'll Have a Real Good Time

At age 15, Songco performed in the musical Gypsy starring Betty Buckley and Deborah Gibson at Paper Mill Playhouse. Night after night, he performed in the storyline of one of the greatest American musicals ever written: a young, unimportant girl named Louise blossoms into the famous striptease artist Gypsy Rose Lee. Songco takes a lyric from the musical’s recurring song as the title for this exhibition to reveal themes of desire, entertainment, and performance. 

choreography playbook (Numbers 1 through 10), 2018. Chalk-pastel on Stonehenge paper. 18" x 18" edition. Edition 1 of 10.

For the first time in an exhibition, Songco offers a glimpse into the Society of 23’s ritual ceremony. Audiences of Songco’s work often wonder what the brothers of the mysterious group do once they wear their formal ritual robes — a controversial rainbow-striped garment that has a similar silhouette to the hooded Ku Klux Klan costume. While Songco constructs a non-linear narrative for the Society of 23 and rarely knows what comes ‘next’ in the linear chronology of the brotherhood’s story, what he does know is this: the brothers perform a ritual ceremony that validates their identity through the completion of specific choreography. In this exhibit, Songco presents choreography playbook, a colorful edition of chalk-pastel drawings on black Stonehenge paper that mashup dance choreography notation and football plays. These drawings use quick, sketch-like mark making and reference the kaleidoscopic compositions of Busby Berkeley’s musical numbers.

 
   photo booth (Andrew Ethan and Robert Zachary)  , 2018. Photo on fleece. 60" x 50".

photo booth (Andrew Ethan and Robert Zachary), 2018. Photo on fleece. 60" x 50".

 

Continuing the idea of performance, Songco presents photo booth (Andrew Ethan and Robert Zachary), a hanging photograph on fleece fabric. Here, two of the twenty-three brothers pose for the camera in contemporary party clothes, including the brotherhood’s mozzetta, a short cape styled after the garment worn by the Pope and cardinals in the Roman Catholic Church.

jeffrey augustine songco holmol chair 1
jeffrey augustine songco holmol chair 2

holmol chair, 2018. Bible pages, plastic, metal, wood. 19" x 18" x 32".

Brother Andrew Ethan is seated on the holmol chair, a mixed-media sculpture that is also presented as an object in this exhibition. The holmol chair (short for holy molded chair) combines an Eames-style plastic molded chair with shag texture created from hand-cut Bible pages — the perfect objet d'art for a fashionable evening of hosting and entertaining in one’s home.

jeffreyaugustinesongco_lightgallery_firstfridaysapril2018-7.jpeg

spike marks, 2018. Vinyl tape. Variable dimensions.

Lastly, Songco uses vinyl tape to create an installation titled spike marks. Using the existing architecture of Light Gallery + Studio, Songco transforms the floor and window bay into a stage on which his brothers perform. The spike marks on the floor identify unknown set pieces that fill this production in six scenes — each scene identified by one of six colors, and read chronologically in rainbow color order (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, and Purple). Visitors to Light Gallery + Studio enter the space during Scene 3 as marked by yellow spike marks. The performances that occur before and after this scene are not revealed, leaving visitors to determine their own storyline for the brotherhood’s beginning and end.

“I always want to express the concept of performance,” says Songco. “We perform all the time. We invite people into our homes and entertain each other. We go to parties at reception venues and pose for cameras. We’re constantly switching from an internal, personal self to an external, performed self with others, like an actor moving between being on stage and backstage. This exhibition was a way for me to capture that process in a variety of media.”

jeffrey augustine songco light gallery holmol chair
jeffrey augustine songco photo booth light gallery grand rapids