Society of 23’s Locker Dressing Room | Jeffrey Augustine Songco
Jeffrey Augustine Songco | ArtPrize Nine Installation Juried Award Winner
For ArtPrize Nine, Jeffrey Augustine Songco returns with an immersive installation titled “Society of 23’s Locker Dressing Room”. Songco established the Society of 23 in 2008 as a multi-media, long-form, and non-linear narrative that documented a mysterious brotherhood of 23 men – all played by the artist himself. Through the production of constructed situations comprised of costumes, props, and scenes both improvised and scripted, the Society of 23 appropriates a familiar world of rituals and traditions. In 2011, Songco entered ArtPrize for the first time with the sculpture “GayGayGay robe,” the ritual robe of the Society of 23. This year, Songco will explore the history and use of the robe in its context within the walls of the brotherhood’s Locker Dressing Room. The installation combines two sites of social engagement – a sports team locker room and a backstage theater dressing room. Specifically, Songco is inspired by the dramatic locker rooms of Division I collegiate sports teams, and the dressing room depicted on the reality television competition program “RuPaul’s Drag Race”. Both examples describe a complex definition of American masculinity that is inherent to each brother of the Society of 23, from conspicuous aspirations of physical strength and the becoming of the ‘athlete,’ to subversive ideas of gender and the becoming of the ‘performer’. Songco’s work continues to define an American identity by citing pop culture and headlines, from tragic college fraternity incidents, to presidential ‘locker room talk,’ to the inclusion of RuPaul in Time’s 2017 100 Most Influential People. This year, Songco is a proud recipient of an ArtPrize Artist Seed Grant presented by the Frey Foundation.