before, brother, before:
peripheral visions of an invisible libretto


This performance/exhibition embodies theoretical peripheries or liminal spaces surrounding representation, language, and time. before, brother, before is rooted in the traumatic event of my brother’s death, and feels through theories relating to opacity, intersubjectivity, absence, dematerialization, and quantum mechanics.

The work’s central touchstone is a saddle-stitched libretto drawing composed of ink drawings of journal entries from Aaron and Kyle Johanson, surrounded by margins of words by Karen Barad, Jaques Derrida, Avery Gordon, Jean-Francoise Lyotard, Catherine Malabou, Fred Moten, Stephano Harvey, and Edward Said. The performance architecture includes a birch writing table, task lamp, carpet, a membrane enclosure, gravitational wave sounds (produced when two black holes absorb one another), Paul-stretched “naïve melody” by talking heads and “wake up!” by rage against the machine.

The libretto was improvisationally performed behind the enclosure by 5 vocalists (Joe Con-Ui, Von Curtiss, Kyle Johanson, Andre Keichian, Elizabeth Webb) and 4 instrumentalists (Ben Finley on upright bass, Tim Tsang on piano, Sarah Reid on trumpet, and Ryan Gaston on sound manipulation).

before, brother, before is a hauntological call and response, conjuring the indeterminate, the speculative, the entangled, and their potential energies for revolutionary becoming.


Quantum Entanglements and Hauntological Relations of Inheritance: Dis/continuities, SpaceTime Enfoldings, and Justice-to-Come, Karen Barad

Duration and Simultaneity: Bergson and the Einsteinian Universe, Henri Bergson

Specters of Marx: The State of the Debt, The Work of Mourning & the New International, Jaques Derrida

Ghostly Matters: Haunting and the Sociological Imagination, Avery Gordon

Libidinal Economy, Jean-Francoise Lyotard

The New Wounded: From Neurosis to Brain Damage, Kathryn Malabou

The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning & Black Study, Fred Moten and Stephano Harvey

In The Break: The Aesthetics Of The Black Radical Tradition, Fred Moten

Reflections on Exile and Other Essays, Edward Said

Tosca, Giacomo Puccini

© 2023 KBJ Studios