Jordan Deal’s investigative practice uses performance, sound, and image as a conduit between the interdimensional highways that connect ancestral and spiritual knowledge with worlds of thought, ideas, and modes of understanding. Using their body as filter, mirror, and conductor between audience, sound, site, and imagery, their process is a deep collaboration between the gaze of the audience (the perception, interference, and surveillance of), the site (land), and the filters of language.
Deal is currently working on a 3-part project, Flight of a thousand psalms to paradise, where their debut sonic album GOGO UNDERWORLD (part 1A of the project) explores the underworld as a site of reflection, ceremony and discovery. In this space of conjuring, communion, and mythbuilding, they are diving into the depths of memory as historical artifact, collective ancestral knowledge, death & rebirth, states of transit, power dynamics contained in surveillance and access, residual energetic footprint, and celebration as resistance. At Amant, Deal’s research process will continue gathering the stories embedded in celebration, dance, and urban mythology, leading towards material for an experimental sound album, film, and zine.
Meet the Residents Jordan Deal
Sarah Demeuse: This is “Meet the Residents”, a series of interviews with Amant’s artists-in-residence, in which we speak, and digress about research, the impact of context on artistic process, serendipity, and making community. Amant is a nonprofit arts organization and residency in North Brooklyn . Our studios are at 306 Maujer, where we host 4 artists for 3 months; one cohort in fall, another one in spring.
My name is Sarah Demeuse, I’m your host and Amant’s Head of Publications. This is our Fall 2022 season.
Today, I am at Jordan Deal’s studio.
Sarah Demeuse: Jordan. Thanks for inviting me or letting me into your studio. I’m sitting on the couch here with you,
Jordan Deal:Of course.
Sarah Demeuse:I would love to just have a talk a little bit about where you joined us from, and then we take it from there. So–
Sarah Demeuse:Start with the basics.
Jordan Deal:I’m coming from Philly, which is not very far away from here, from New York. It’s about like a two hour bus ride. I’m from there. I’m from West Philadelphia. And yeah, yeah.
Sarah Demeuse:Great. So in a way, we’ve had residents in the past who come from somewhere more nearby. But I wonder I wonder how it feels to you to be in a context where you kind of understand everything, but also not maybe it’s it’s a very strange way of being a resident because you are local. But there’s so many other, I guess, to moving a practice to a certain place.
Jordan Deal: Yeah. I mean, like New York is its own world. I mean, like in our own ecosystem, it is quite different than Philly, which has been really interesting getting to know how that ecosystem runs and like the different communities and yeah, again, just totally different world for that.
Sarah Demeuse: What are some of the things you’ve discovered since moving here basically?
Jordan Deal: You know, I mean, like, I think some of it is just like the natural appeal and also kind of what is thought of as New York, like just a fast pace. But like with that, like people are very direct in a way that is like very nice. Like a lot, very well. I notice especially like walking down the street.
Jordan Deal: It’s just relationships. Like people you can tell that like people have been either walk down the same street to work at the same time or like have like a real history to the city or like relationship that’s long, genuine. It feels very like just a lot of heat. Yeah, I mean, it’s just very beautiful to see. I mean, like.
Jordan Deal: Yeah, you know, I’m staying in Bed-Stuy and it’s a really interesting area, but you could tell again, like the history is very deep, it’s long and the community that’s there and the people who lived there has been you can tell that it’s been generations of people living there. And yes, it’s amazing to see. And Philly still also has that like deep relationship with each other.
Jordan Deal: Like, you can tell, you know, a lot of the families are in Philly or it’s from generations, but yeah, so they’re just operating in a just a slightly different way.
Sarah Demeuse: Yeah. No, I, I can understand that. I wonder. So you came here with a certain idea of what you would do, and I wonder to what degree these findings are just these other elements that you’re seeing, how are they shaping what you’re doing now? In what way has your kind of your daily routine and your practice?It’s been more by what you’re seeing on the street or elsewhere.
Jordan Deal: Yeah. I mean, I think the so the one of the biggest things that really inspired just even within my practice, a big thing is just black parties when I was growing up the black party and I think it still is a big thing for me. But you know, it was a space that was like, well, my grandparents always threw the black party as well.
Jordan Deal: It was a very you know, all the family would come together and, you know, even from different blocks, you know, people would just come through the black party and it’d be like all kinds of food and, you know, fun is a very important space. It’s a very political space. It’s a very I find the black party is also like this space of like subversiveness, you know, I mean, like the way I’ve seen the city attack, particularly black parties and try to restrain it from happening, you know, made me really interested in the ways that people gather and celebrate.
Jordan Deal:And also how is that like spiritually nourishing in its own way and also like its own form of resistance? So, you know, like they even come into New York and I have friends in New York and I even go into parties or like even having people have dinner parties or, you know, like inviting people to homes. Like I just a very important ways for me to really just see how are people naturally resisting, you know, in developing these relationships.
Jordan Deal: And also, just like respecting those ways of that they’re gathering, you know? I mean, so yeah, that’s like one of the biggest motivators of like that also brought me here and it’s also the center of the practice is like form of like how is celebration resistance and what are these other manifestations of, um, of these disruptive like modalities.
Jordan Deal: Yeah.
Sarah Demeuse: When you so when you’re, when you’re researching, how have how do you, how do you gather everything? It seems that it’s a lot about observation and kind of taking it in. Do you take notes? Do you rehearse things? Do you like, you know, does it become part of your body? How does all of that go for you?
Jordan Deal: Yeah, you know, I find it very interesting. And I’m also just talking to a friend about this of the different ways that like, you know, with how do we like gather or like also like interact with the world and then like how does it stay in our bodies? I think a lot through just conversation. I mean the most like, to space of just like that often doesn’t feel like it’s trying to create a container that reduces the experience or like creates like a wall or barrier that of abstraction, you know.
Jordan Deal: I mean, I find it just from like relational, like just from relationships and conversations I do. I love recording I love recordings. I love gathering things as well. So like sometimes I’m either keep I keep a bunch of like pamphlets, I keep a bunch of menus, I keep I just love to collect those things. But also through recordings and also recordings that people are willing to send or like they’re like songs, you know, like playlists.
Jordan Deal: I think all of these things are generative for that. So as I’m walking around like I’m, I’m taking things in, I’m witnessing things and yeah, also trying to like respect those experiences, you know.
Sarah Demeuse: Because you are part in the end of the party as well. And I don’t assume that you go there saying I’m an artist doing research, that you’re just part of it.
Jordan Deal: Yeah. Yes.
Sarah Demeuse: Which is which is a very distinct way of engaging. Then, you know, some of your cohort members because everybody has a different method. And so it’s important to to kind of, I think, stand still at the fact that you’re in it and experiencing and then it’s part of the practice, but it’s not like you are doing some kind of research as an outside observer.
Jordan Deal: Yes.
Sarah Demeuse: Dressed as like a participant or something, you know.
Jordan Deal: Yes, yes, yes. So yeah, I mean, like I’m this is really important. Like does relationship that doesn’t feel again like in genuine you know so that’s why it’s like very organic and it’s already building off of some of the relationship that I do have. You know, that’s what’s often nice about not being too far away or like growing up in Philly.
Jordan Deal: I have friends and family that have navigated and has different roots. ‘Ive been doing a lot of thinking on this idea of chaos and, you know, like the same thing of like the way that celebration acts as a resistance. I’ve been thinking about ways like what are manifestations of this chaos force and what I’m thinking about as I’m thinking about chaos force or the force of chaos, I’m thinking of a subversive and a disruptive and boundless thing. You know that also it’s hard. Like it’s almost inescapable from naming, you know, like I think about that with Improvisation. I think about that, you know, especially when I look at the things that. I’m thinking about chaos is like something that is it can be random, it can be surprising, it can be, you know, something happens that almost even like, you know, in that space of even when we’re celebrating or at a party or something like that, like this sense of fear of no. And I’m I’m yes, I’m not thinking about it as like I mean, it can be chaotic, you know, again, how we know chaos. But it is also something I am I’m still questioning and exploring, but yeah, for 99, the ways that we may think of chaos.
Sarah Demeuse: Yeah. Yeah. Because celebrations might also lead to like a new collectivity, right? Yeah. I feel at least. Yeah. And that’s all of a sudden kind of a structure that is intuitive or something. So. But it emerges out of a moment.
Jordan Deal: Yeah. And I’m also like interested in celebration as like that is also in a like is separate from the political and social bounds. You know, like I think why is why are we celebrating? Where are we celebrating for who is celebrating and gathering in spaces? I mean, like who has access to be able to gather in spaces and celebrate?
Jordan Deal: Like, I think all these things are part of that question of like what, how it can be harnessed into a disruptive force. And yeah, you know, so I think about other things, especially when it comes to celebration and you know, it’s not just for celebration as I’m still also interested in like what are these other manifestations, right? Like, like for like even the moments of like deciding to walk across street or a red light, you know, like that is a manifestation of this thing of like, defiance, right?
Jordan Deal: Of like, not listening, doing the unpredictable, unexpected. And that I’m interested in, in like, either dismantling or deconstructing what we know of the bounds of the system or understanding the system, you know, its limitations, borders, it’s all these things. And, and in actively deciding to pass through them and resist in certain ways and also accept in certain places like this, the agency is kind of be happening.
Jordan Deal: And this is happening. This like all the times, every day, every space that we interact with institutions, signs, you know, like so the active thing is an active decision making that we’re all kind of participating in whether or not, you know, listen to authority or not listen to authority in these moments.
Sarah Demeuse: Given that we’re in your studio, I kind of just wanted us to talk about how you set up the studio. It’s that you have a set up here to make music. There’s a lot of books and then there’s also costumes. It seems like props of all matter. So I think it would just be really nice to kind of walk through this and and have you tell us a little bit of how these elements here are coming together, or maybe not.
Sarah Demeuse: Like how do you engage with them as you’re in the studio?
Jordan Deal: Yeah, I mean, I think the first thing was how to dirty it up, you know, I mean, I think that was like one of the biggest things. I’m very I can be very messy which if there’s great. Yeah there’s a lot of I’m also prepping I’m in the middle of like prepping for a performance. So there’s some things that aren’t present here.
Jordan Deal: But yeah, I, a big part of the practice also is making music and making sounds and improvising with those. So I have a set up that I, you know, has two pianos. I have electric guitar, three mics and another acoustic guitar and just also instruments that either I’ve touched or not touched, which is violin, a harp, or like a little mini harp.
Jordan Deal: Yeah. And I love books. I mean, I love going things. So there’s a there’s, there’s ranges from all things right now. Yeah. And I think because I mean the way I work is very either I’m, I have a lot of things on my mind and a lot of different I can’t think of at almost like abbreviated thoughts. So, you know, I work very manically.
Jordan Deal: So these different stations that allow me to kind of like navigate these different worlds of like, oh, okay, like I’m working a film and then I can be very physical and work with these instruments and or play around with I have different devices. I have a cassette player and VCR tapes, like for different types of sounds and different type of things like I might have.
Jordan Deal: So that allows me to kind of like navigate these different parts of my brain a bit in either a physical way or like a sonic way. Yeah. Also, yeah, I’ve, I’ve during my time here, I’ve been exploring like these different tropes and characters and performance and also like the ways it with its social and political context. And one of the things that were coming up is Power Rangers.
Jordan Deal: So even with so within these, like I have these suits and some of them are helmets and shoulder pads. A lot of these are are for costume and wearable pieces. And also one of the things that I think I carry everywhere I go is this skeleton, which I’ve had for a couple of years now. And it’s constantly morphing and changing and being reconstructed and deconstructed and developing its own type of life.
Jordan Deal: So that’s always going to that is staying with me.
Sarah Demeuse: And does it have a name?
Jordan Deal: Now yet, you know, I mean, it changes, I mean, and it acts as a vessel in my performances. So I lot I allow kind of like whatever wants to embody that during a performance that space too. So I don’t name it.
Sarah Demeuse: Got it. Yeah, that’s very distinct for this year or for this season, Ayo came with a specific object and used it to like in a way, it’s not just you coming for a residency. It’s very, it’s very particular. The Power Rangers. We definitely need an image of that. Also on the on the wall is a pretty nice combination of things there.
Sarah Demeuse: But I, I wonder is this, is this how in Philly you work as well, you have a studio or do you live in the studio in like in what way is this setup common for your practice or is there something that is very new or something that you’re trying out here in this space?
Jordan Deal: Yeah, I think there’s a few things this new. I have a two studio space in Philly, but most of the time I do a lot of my work from like in the spaces I live in and like for like I do a lot of sculptural work like in my studio, but a lot of sound and film and things like that.
Jordan Deal: Like I may even use like a bedroom living room. Like it’s something about living with those things and also always work over night. So here it’s kind of interesting. Like I’ve also been, you know, one of the most times I’ve been here is from it’s at midnight, you know, is staying here to the morning. And I yeah, I think that it’s also interesting like having to one of the things I’m adjusting to is like having this other space that also everything is happening in one space and then we have like three different locations that do things.
Jordan Deal: And so here like the music, even playing with sculpture and doing the films, it’s all here is is interesting because it’s gathering its own congested and dense energy in one space, you know, it’s concentrated. Yeah. So I’m enjoying that process. And I’m also thinking about, like, continuing that in Philly. Mm hmm. Yeah.
Sarah Demeuse: Interesting. So what does it mean for you to, like, be in residency? Like, we’ve spoken about New York and kind of similarities, distinctions, but is there something that you do or that your practice kind of adjusts to because you’re not in in your regular space, like in what way has it grown or learned things? Sometimes it just seems that I’m not talking about you, but just in general, people feel like they have to go on a residence.
Sarah Demeuse: And I wonder, like what is learned from that? And I’d be really interested to hear how that’s going for you. Maybe is it pushing you out of your comfort zone in one way or another?
Jordan Deal: Yeah. I mean like I think when just like trying to get adjusted to a new city away from, you know, friends and what my normal routine is, I’m happy. And that on its own is its own challenge. And yeah.
Sarah Demeuse: Is there also something that is distinct because you’re with you’re with two or three other artists? And what happens in that kind of microcosm of things? Yeah.
Jordan Deal: Yeah. I mean, I think one of the things I’ve been cherishing is the relationship that we’ve built of just like either does going to be shows or just being in conversation and being able to watch how all of our practices are developing, our ideas are developing, are moving, and because it’s such a concentrated in short amount of time, I mean, it’s three months, but you know, sometimes it feels very fast, but it’s still amazing to like, we can see each other and watch each other move to these ideas.
Jordan Deal: Also explore the city together and yeah.
Sarah Demeuse: And I do feel that in comparison to other groups, this group, you do a lot of things together.
Jordan Deal: Yeah, we do.
Sarah Demeuse: You do? Yeah.
Jordan Deal: Yeah, we have a group chat. We’re kind of like each other now. Like, what’s happening tonight? Or is it a jazz scene? Or we kind of dance and we’re like, Oh, there’s a show happening, you know, like to also. Yeah, I mean, just to also be in relationship with the artists and out of this city, you know, and also to work in the city and which is very informative it seems to all of our practices too.
Sarah Demeuse: Yeah, so true. I in these interviews, I always ask the residents if they have a question for or if they have questions for Amant. And I wonder if you have any. Feels like you have too many.
Jordan Deal: Yeah. No, no, no. I think. Yeah, I’m I think I’m, I’m always curious about the people, what makes up the institution. So, you know, like you, what’s your experience, you know, like and I’m what now moves you to be a part of Amant.
Sarah Demeuse: Yeah I ha. It’s really strange because Amant is a collection of people. You’re right. And somehow I’m here speaking for Amant, but it’s my specific place where I’m talking from. I think it first started with a relationship also, like I knew the director and we had worked together. You know? So there’s like a history that brings you here of doing things together.
Sarah Demeuse: And then I, I am actually really drawn to this environment that is small. I, New York, I feel institutionally has a lot of great things to offer, but often the scale is just like too daunting for me. And it feels like you cannot be a person anymore. And there is space for that here. So I really appreciate that you’re here.
Sarah Demeuse: Yeah, no, there are new relationships that happen all the time. And the one with the artists is one that we’re kind of artists by, which I mean resident is one that we’re we I think we not just me. I would like to think of how we carry that forward. Even after you’ve left, how do we stay in conversation? Thank you very much Jordan for for opening your thoughts and for letting me ask you questions and bring it somewhere else.
Jordan Deal: Yeah, yeah. No, of course. Thank you. Thank you for this time.
Thanks for listening! On our website, you can find a transcript of this conversation as well as more reference images. This is the final interview for Fall 2022, please join us again for Spring 2023.
“Meet the Resident” theme music is composed by Silas Edgar, who also recorded the conversations. Sound editing and engineering is by Isaac Silber. Finally, we’re also thankful to our residents, for letting us into their studios, their process and for finding time in their tight schedules.