2018 - Ongoing
Brooklyn, New York, United States; New York City, New York, United States; New Orleans, Louisiana, United States
Ole Dandy, the Tribute, is an introspective into the lives of Jean Loren Feliz & Angelo Lwazi Owenzayo. Feliz & Owenzayo are imagined male impersonators/drag kings who live in NYC during the late 19th century. Feliz & Owenzayo are modeled after male impersonator/entertainer Florence Hines. Hines was a queer African-American drag king and singer who performed from the 1890s to the 1920s all over the United States. Hines has become an inspirational figure for me because of their importance to African American theatre and comedy. Their portrayal of the Black dandy character is one that not only elevated the representation of the Black man in the post Civil War era, but she also blurred the lines between what race, class and gender could look like. Hines is not known by many because there is not much archival imagery of her performance career. White male impersonators of the same time, like Ella Wesner, performed during the same time as Hines, yet there are many surviving images of them throughout their careers. I consider Florence Hines to be a queer ancestor and pioneer, Feliz and Owenzayo were made to honor her performance career.
Through Ole Dandy, the Tribute I re-imagine queer life in the early 20th century, I celebrate the radical queer communities existing pre-Stonewall while also giving a specific focus to how that looks in and out of the archive. I give space for these imagined queer ancestors to exist and honor the lives of what could have been, while also respecting the name and likeness of those queer ancestors who wanted that part of their lives to remain private.
Through the use of historical processes such as wet plate collodion and 4 x 5 sheet film photography I stage and document the lives of these individuals. Giving a specific focus to their existence outside of the tabloids and theatre environments.
This work is a remix of past in order to envision an inclusive future. Representation is important especially for queer decedents of the African diaspora, like myself. I am interested in creating an archive that when activated challenges the historical linear timeline.