“The problem was gravity and the answer was gravity.” 

–Dionne Brand

“Two forces rule the universe: light and gravity… Grace is the law of the descending movement.” 

–Simone Weill

Things don’t fall down, they fall and float and slide and flow and drip and rain and slip and roll and crumble toward the earth. A slackening and slouching towards the earth becomes a levitation when inverted. And a descent can become a support when it’s rotated in the right way.

There is gravity as an element of value. Gravity provides a force that gives things weight and makes them measurable by scales. Determining value through weight saves the time of counting things individually but also opens up the possibility of deceiving vision by secretly adding weight to things. The use of false bottoms was a common ancient practice that could make objects appear to be lighter or heavier than they were by adding or removing weight to areas not immediately visible.

The talent of managing gravity is a spectacle. Michael Jordan’s dunk, Kanye’s Saint Pablo stage, Tina Turner’s crane, Michael Jackson’s moonwalk, Evil Knievel, Mae Jemison, and on and on. The term talent emerged in ancient times and most commonly referred to a weight of silver or gold. In ancient Rome, Egypt and Assyria a talent was between 60 – 100lbs, and it has been speculated that this weight was the approximate load that could be carried by one person.

Talent is a capacity for carrying something and to do so, you have to have good proprioception, balance, pacing. You can re-set your body/weight, make adjustments. We're talking about the management of gravity. The naming of talent is not only naming a kind of physical feat that we can then measure and value but is also naming a more conceptual feat: that you’ve defied the laws of gravity in particular and “Nature” (we’re not claiming that term) in general—and you’ve done so in such a way that we ourselves can feel like, or imagine that, there is a There beyond Right Here. The talent was likely measured as the capacity for workers to bear the load; not necessarily, say, the landowners or the merchants. So embedded in the talent—which is the tribute, which is the measurement of the bearer’s value to the landowner or the mayor or the chief or the king or whomever—is an expectation of servitude or dutifulness or a kind of noble dignity in being able to do that work.

Exhibition text for GRAVITY GARAGE co-written with Kemi Adeyemi

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