Images and video from Black Licorice Blues: The brutal labor, sour thoughts, lucid exploits, and eventual addictions of the hollow (calloused Geist settles for less than) new work by Amos Oaks - Friday, April 6, 2012 - Knoxville, Tennessee. Statement from the show: "Licorice contains a compound called glycyrrhizin, a sweetening chemical that comes from the root of licorice shrubs. The glycyrrhizin compound can lower potassium levels, which can lead to abnormal heart rhythms, high blood pressure, edema, or even congestive heart failure." -FDA
I have existed in the subculture of the building trades for nearly twenty years. This line of work has allowed careful observation of the laborer and abject experience of labor. These works are semi-autobiographical and cannot speak for everyone, but they can speak for dozens of laborers I have toiled with or brushed shoulders with on countless job sites, in home improvement stores, lumber yards, and convenience stores. I have witnessed the uprooted man. The man that has fulfilled these words from Genesis 3:19, "By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground since from it your were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return." I have seen this man processed by a society that says, "Produce!" A society that consumes this man and conditions the need to provide pressured by a counterfeit life. These men have been through brutal labor. These men have sour thoughts. They have embarked on lucid exploits and have succumbed to eventual addictions. They are hollow. The calloused Geist of this subculture has settled for less than. Conversation is driven by tales of sexual conquests that are intended to degrade and empower, the vile speech of avid racism, and the hope for end-of-day mood-altering antics. I've known men to be jailed or even die from their violent lifestyles that are intended to numb the burden of their day. I've seen men wither from ages of substance abuse. I've seen men shattered emotionally and physically. I've heard men talk about what they wish they could have been or cry about what they should be. I present this body of work for you to ruminate. I hope you feel empty, dirty, and achy at the end of the evening. I hope that you feel like you hit the same thumb over and over again with a hammer on a humid 90º day in East Tennessee. I pray you "take a great dark snooze and bask, smack, taste these black licorice blues."
Amos Oaks March 2012
This is audio from Black Licorice Blues with loop video that served as backdrop. Unfortunately the record button did not get pressed on the video recorder, but we were able to get an audio recording. You can download the live audio at the bottom of this page.
Confessional - This piece is an ongoing project that features audio of true stories from worksites I've gathered over the years, and continue to gather. This is has no video either. The audio is paired with still images of the port-o-pot.
Excited About His Future - This video loop was displayed in a 4' x 6' OSB Box paired with a cored apple pot pipe and bic lighter.
Download the live performance of Black Licorice Blues below: