Where was this created?
This was photograph was taken when Scott performed in Brooklyn. It was actually under the Manhattan bridge in DUMBO.
Can you tell me more about Dread Scott?
He was born in Chicago in 1965 as Scott Tyler. He assumed the name Dread Scott in reference to the Dred Scott Decision, a court case known officially as Scott v. Sanford and widely known as the worst supreme court decision in US history, including that African Americans could never be citizens. All of its precedents have since been overturned.
Scott works in a wide range of media including performance and photography, like we see here, as well as video, installation, printmaking, and painting.
I've left the Legacy of Lynching exhibit, but I can't stop thinking about the Dread Scott images on display. Can you tell me more about that performance with the firehose?
As you probably know, the use of the firehoses in the performance are a direct reference to firehoses being turned on demonstrators during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. Scott's use of them reminds viewers that minorities are still fighting for their rights decades later. He uses the imagery of a single event as a metaphor for the larger and ongoing struggle against racism in the United States.
The stream of water is such visceral image. Maybe it's so shocking because I'm used to seeing archival video—grainy, black and white—so the photos being at this scale and so contemporary is incredibly confrontational in a powerful way.
That's a really interesting and important point. The reenactment brings the event to our own time, makes it familiar and accessible. It also drives home how shocking it really is that firehoses would be used against human beings.
For performance art like this, is it staged and watched in the moment by an audience, or is the intention to document it and put that version on display?
The answer to your question is, it depends. On the Impossibility of Freedom in a Country Founded on Slavery and Genocide, specifically, was performed for a live audience AND captured photographically.
Incredible. Thank you for this information and for the conversation!