Amant is delighted to partner with Performa, New York’s visual arts performance biennial, to present Amazon (Proxy), a new live work by British-American artist Danielle Dean.
Amazon (Proxy) brings together a cast of online gig workers and actors to revisit events that occurred at Fordlândia, a short-lived rubber plantation established by Henry Ford in the Amazon in the 1920s. Taking place both online and in person, the piece builds on the historical narrative of Fordlândia to create a contemporary drama that riffs on our current modes of working and socializing remotely.
Amazon (Proxy) originated during Dean’s period of research at the archives of the Ford Motor Company in Detroit. There, she came across records from Fordlândia, a city founded in the Brazilian rainforest in 1928 to control the production of raw material for Ford’s car tires. In Fordlândia, Ford imposed Michigan factory work hours and methods upon the Brazilian workforce, disregarding the tropical climate and indigenous botanical knowledge. Eventually, the workers rebelled and the plantation became prey to tree blight. Facing a fiasco, the US car manufacturer abandoned the settlement in 1934.
In her live production for Performa and Amant, Dean brings together this ephemeral online community with a cast of live actors who will act as proxies for AMT workers to examine the limits and hopes of twenty-first century modes of being together, online and IRL. Through a series of scenes performed both online by the Turkers and in person by the actors, the performance reenacts events that took place at Ford’s Brazilian plantation and reinterprets them through the lens of Amazon’s current work methodologies. In this hybrid historical fiction, the plantation riots and bug infestations will be revisited, replayed, and recontextualized by Dean’s cast of Turkers and actors.
Amazon (Proxy) is curated by Charles Aubin, Performa Curator & Head of Publications.