For “Shine” by Justin Randolph Thompson
As the Afro-American folklore and traditions inform Justin's work, so too does his work offer his audience the opportunity to connect with this tradition, and re-examine conventional views established in the public's mind.

While the constructive action in the performance “Shine” can be defined as the distinctive way the artist has found to shine shoes, his investigation of what happens in the “down time”, when a person is forced to non-action, to wait, also brings me to examine another convention taken for granted in our society: action is seen as “good”, non-action as “bad”. The “down time” air is filled with that airport lounge void of thought. We are accustomed to “passing the time”, without considering that time, as we understand it, passes of it's own accord. We strive to fill the unforgiving minute, with sixty seconds worth of distance run. *

A conversation I had with a South African artist some years ago comes to mind. When I asked him what he did over the long weekend, he said he did nothing. I replied: “Oh, you rested.” To which his answer was: “No, I can rest when I die. I was doing nothing”.

Even nothing can be an assertive action.

Gordana Bezanov

Shine is a performance and installation that addresses a shift in the social hierarchy of the shoe shiner and patron. The work employs the action of gold leafing the shoes of the viewer while placing them in a context where the conditions are laid out for them. The shoe shine box used for the performance is created from faux wood inlay vinyl adhesives and emits a sound work drawn from a re-elaborated series of African American Folk songs that speak of home as an allusion to heaven and to the traveling shoes necessary for arrival there. The work alludes to the superficiality of understandings regarding socially demeaning work and the assertive and often controlling forms taken on by the frequently self-employed worker.