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Set It Off (October 29, 2021 – June 19, 2022) is a multi-site exhibition by Jeremy Toussaint-Baptiste. This exhibition consists of two variations of a monumental, immersive, sonic sculpture installed across both sites. At the ICA, you are invited to enter two large-scale black cubes made of wood, polyethylene, and tinted glass, and at 1708 Gallery, visitors will encounter a black square pool built of similar materials. Each structure uniquely incorporates the circulation of water from the James River, reminding us to consider our bodies as mediums for environmental pollutants.

Since the 1980s, music has been used to push the limits of car audio and sound systems. Music genres like Bounce, Miami Bass, synth bass, and trap intensify cars, clubs, and their surrounding areas. Inescapable in many U.S. cities, bass produces deep affinities but also aversions and sensitivities. While some are conditioned to enjoy the impact of excessive bass, others are given no choice but to experience its intensity. Set It Off intends to shake the room, using the car audio system as the most recognizable transmitter of bass.  

Using sonic frequencies that register just below human audibility, the installations provide a series of site-specific experiences for sound to be deeply felt. Coursing through Set it Off is a resistance to predetermined representations of Black American experiences, which is most often simplified as either a victim of violence and oppression or worse, as absent, static, and universal from selective omission throughout history. Toussaint-Baptiste invites visitors to deeply engage with the site, considering the implications of sound, visibility, and performance.

Set It Off is co-curated by ICA Curator Amber Esseiva and Park C. Myers, the Royall Family Curator at 1708 Gallery. 

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  • Jessica Lynn Meador

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