Bryant Park Shoeshine, 2016
42nd Street and 5th Avenue, Manhattan, New York City
For this participatory public performance, I bought a pair of all-white Air Force 1's and received a shoeshine at the stand on 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue in midtown Manhattan. The work embeds itself in the practice of shoe-shining to explore it's material and metaphorical qualities, and it's relationship to aspects of identity, power, and labor.
In November 2017 I had ligament repair surgery on my wrist and was prescribed Percocet. I'd only taken painkillers two other times. The first time was when I was 14. I snorted OxyContin in a high school friends basement. I remember feeling so good it scared me, and I thought it was probably best not to try it again. The second time was when I had my wisdom teeth removed at age 17. I was prescribed Vicodin, and I spent four days eating Neapolitan ice cream in front of the TV. I remember frantically searching the medicine cabinet for more pills after mine had run out.
It was kind of scary to take the Percocet pills, because I know several people who have struggled with opioid and heroin addiction, including a friend of mine from middle school who died from an overdose. I thought that maybe if I consumed media about opioid addiction while I was high, it might help me abstain from continuing to use after my prescription had run out.
To compose the pieces below, I sampled from radio broadcasts, documentaries, trap music, and my own personal field recordings. I used editing techniques popularized by the chopped and screwed genre. I composed the recordings below while on Percocet.