Beverly Fre$h “Mr. Midwest”
Beverly crosses borders with his performance. The interlocutor identity that goes from preacher to hip-‐hop MC, to possibly mentally disturbed or handicapped individual plays off one another well. Whether this is intentional or just the outcome of the multi-‐faceted performer to watch Beverly is to be entranced. At the end of the performance you feel like something just happened and you can’t quite put it in a specific structure to explain it, but you’re taken by it is all you know.
Beverly walked on to a set that looked like a set of props from the backwoods scene design. He came in with a crew sporting black jackets, as rappers and preachers often do. He came in with a chant. The chant went something like this,
O W H E N T H E D O G B A R K S . O W H E N T H E C A T S C R E A M S . T H E Y ‘ L L B E L O O K I N
F O R ME . T H E Y ‘ L L B E L O O K I N F O R ME . I K I L L E D T H A T K I D . C U Z O F W H A T H E
D I D . S H O T H I M I N H I S H E A D . A N D N OW H E ‘S D E A D .
This was repeated several times, along with the audience with the aid of the hype men/crew. The audience repeated and made animal sounds to accompany Beverly’s stories. From the chanting Beverly launches into a song, rapping about his escapades and philosophy. It went from sermon to hip hop concert in a line or two and back again. He does several songs, going from low whispers to loud and raspy. Then after the final song, just walks off the stage. But all the while the audience is jumping and dancing along with him and his hype men in the mix, keeping things…well hyped.
So the story goes, as you never quite figure where to place Beverly’s act, you can call him a rapper or it performance. But this is what makes his work refreshing in itself, is that is doesn’t belong to any category but does belong to all, at the end you’ll just have to take it for what it ultimately is, ART.
Photo by Isabelle Maguire
Abbéy Odunlami is a Nigerian-American filmmaker and cultural worker, living and working in Chicago, Detroit & Switzerland. He did his undergraduate work at Eastern Michigan University in Electronic Media & Film Studies w/ a minor in Theatre Comprehension. In the past few years he’s focused on cultural production and worked as a curator, and in programming, coordinating and management for Sundance, Telluride film festival, Doha-Tribeca International film festival, and the Chicago International film festival. He’s currently pursuing two Masters degrees: 1.) at the School of the Art Institute Chicago in Art Education and the 2.) at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland in Conflict Transformation & Peacebuilding. His current trend as a maker is to focus on creating livable “situations” as a means of producing ephemeral material that’s exhibit-able.