Franklin Furnace Fund Recipients 2015-16

(Florence, Italy)Justin Randolph Thompson

Project Description

“Friskin' the Whiskers” is a street-based social performance that draws upon famous New York jazz musicians’ rent parties designed to entertain and pay the rent. The work involves an open call to tri-boro based jazz musicians to battle for change and prizes in an exchange referred to as “cutting contests” where musicians will duel each other in a game for rent money. The exchange happens across an elaborate faux inlayed gaming table with inset recording horns and sub woofers meant to pull from the elitist realm of gambling while connecting it with the folk tradition of quotidian entertainment.


Justin Randolph Thompson is a sculptor and new media artist born in Peekskill, New York in 1979. Living between Italy and the US since 2001, he has exhibited internationally and participated in numerous residencies in the US and in Europe. His work explores the historic implications of triumph, victory and ascension by re-contextualizing references from Roman antiquity and melding these with aspects of African-American culture both past and present. Exploring cultural displacement or imposed hierarchies and adorning status symbols with hybrid connotations through a talismanic application of culturally-specific materials, his work encompasses sculptural installation, performance, video and sound. Reflecting upon the socially constructed communal legacy, he examines expectations and shortcomings through the absence of a concrete linear foundation.