Terence Hammonds’s You’ve Got To Get Up To Get Down invites us into a space decorated with wallpaper, a HiFi record player, and several individual dance floor platforms. The artist intends that we activate the installation by choosing to play music from a stack of records, and then stepping up onto a platform to dance. The decorative scheme of the work brings together traditional patterns (borrowed from historical textiles, tile patterns, and wallpapers) and photographic images from 1960s civil rights protests and 1970s soul music. Adapted to a kind of domestic space, the layered imagery seems contained and attractive— neutralized by its new context. Once the records are played, however, the subtext and power of the historical moment represented through the work come to the fore. Dancing on a raised platform then becomes a potential act of protest or civil disobedience.
Hammonds’s work reminds us of the confluence of social activism, individual action, the pervasiveness of popular music’s messages, and the power contained within each.