All Images © 2012
Justin Randolph Thompson

Quattro su Dieci is a sound-based performance addressing the nationalistic framing of tomatoes throughout the modern history of Italy, the act of commemorative naming as a disservice and the timeless legacy of Paul Robeson’s activism. The work uses statistics as a meditation on systems of exclusion and employs percussive maintenance for the dispersion of seeds.

Performance narrative:
A Bass drum turned planter with the seeds of the Paul Robeson tomato topped with a gilded triumphal arch support for the plants with the dirt and seeds resting atop a buried subwoofer reproducing a slowed version of Robeson singing the Hymn of the Soviet Union. This buried woofer produces the sound of the performance. A lap steel guitar generates an abrasive loop before the guitar is used to crush 6 out of 10 locally grown Othello tomatoes. The remaining 4 are in part eaten and in part thrown against the glass towards the viewers. The gesture is flanked by performers brandishing a protest/advert poster for the tomatoes(painted with shoe polish) apparently distracted by their phones but in reality reading a range of references dedicated to Robeson while in turn missing the performance. The piece closes with the cleaning of the window and a sonic return to Robeson's voice.

This work was created for the Symposium Seeds for Future Memories at Villa Romana
Justin Randolph Thompson
Tatjana Lightbourn
Nara Seymour
Marzia Duarte
Janaé Hu