The Sad Fate of Barbersville (How Jenny became a Pirate)

Arfrican American Arts and Cultural Complex, San Francisco CA,  June 2015

 

 In addition to the Br’er Rabbit character, the exhibit is inspired by Nina Simone’s performance of the song “Pirate Jenny,” a piece originally composed by Kurt Weil for the German opera “The Threepenny Opera.” The ballad, which has been described as "a darkly surreal revenge fantasy, equal parts revenge, retribution, and resistance" has been covered and adapted by many artists over the years, and Burch provides his own unique contextual reading. The exhibit includes portraits of Burch’s friends re-imagined as the members of Jenny’s crew described in the song, with the images transferred onto silver serving trays. Also appearing in the exhibit are vintage harmonicas to which Burch has affixed straight razors, the result being pocketknives with the cruelest blades and sweetest sounds. Building upon the tropes and themes of these existing sources of creative inspiration, Burch has developed new mythologies and continues to write the new pages of the tales for today’s audience.