The title of the exhibition plays on the term hosting, which has been taken up in the gay community on online forums and apps for dating, to indicate a space that’s safe for invitation (i.e. can you host), and ghosting – to drop out of a situation without warning or explanation. The overlapping and entangled actions of hosting and then ghosting, that fit together in spite of their oppositional meanings indicates Kennedy’s preoccupation with the epistemological force of language. The spaces opened up in language for seemingly contradictory affects to coexist.
For their first exhibition in Europe, Kennedy presents (G)hosting, an opera without an audience, which was developed over the course of their 2019 summer residency at Open Forum in Berlin. Considering opera through a language of African American experience – drawing on the oral histories told through spirituals and chain gang songs, Kennedy disrupts the tradition of Western Theatre, where the primary mode of engagement is through observation, in order to generate new participatory modes of viewership.
Kennedy’s multi-disciplinary practice is interested in relationships and navigating sexuality as it occurs at the intersection of class, race and gender. Their professional background is in music and opera, through which they initially began communicating and elaborating these ideas. Throughout the process of creating costumes and set design for opera, Kennedy was led to painting, sculpture and video – drawing on a process of layering, obfuscation, and temporality (slowness) that contradicts their practice in live performance. For (G)hosting, through their experience in scenography, Kennedy delivers a translation, an iteration, of their previous work in the painting and sculpture for this exhibition.