Diamond Stingily: Bitch, You Gone Die

I was doing way too much and that was the problem.

The word ‘should’ is some bullshit.

I was never credible and the creditor knew that before we shook hands.
You load sixteen tons, what do you get?

Another day older and deeper in debt

Saint Peter don’t you call me ‘cause I can’t go

I owe my soul to the company store, my grandmother sang

– Diamond Stingily

Queer Thoughts presents “Bitch, You Gone Die,” at Art Basel, a selection of work by Diamond Stingily that contemplates debt as a moral and spiritual concern. The presentation is a continuation of Stingily’s practice of relating personal and collective memories to economic issues. In her poetry and conceptual work, Stingily is an effective and straightforward communicator. It’s been repeatedly said that Diamond Stingily is not an overtly political artist. Rather, she makes work about her past, growing up in a suburban Chicago neighbourhood. “I’m very inspired by my childhood,” she said. “I feel like it’s influenced me a lot, but childhood influences everybody. I think some people can look at my work, and it’s totally relatable in some type of way. We were all kids at some point.” In many ways, an analysis of one’s childhood is the perfect entry point to understanding the complexities of systemic racism and classism in the US. A child has a crude understanding of differences—who looks different, who has, and who doesn’t have. Children have a peripheral sensitivity to their class status: in Love, Diamond, a publication of her childhood diary, an eight-year old Stingily writes in cursive, “We have to pay the taxes.”

In “Bitch, You Gone Die,” plastic sports trophies bearing statements “We didn’t have this sport where I was at,” and “It can be violent if it takes you out of the illusion you’re self sufficient,” become an apt allegory for the American Dream, of the idea that success is simply something you have to work for. Stingily has a knack for finding recognizable, readymade objects and transforming them into idols of economic inequality. Entryways, Stingily’s sculpture of a bat leaning up against a door, is an example of this; a bat, removed from any intention of baseball  evokes violence and the need for protection.  “I think violence is a part of every day for a lot of people,” says Stingily, “—to be non-violent I think is a very privileged thing. To not live in violence is a privilege.” 

Who Gone Pay For This?, a lenticular hologram of a painted collage of Black Jesus, and the artist’s own student card, is Stingily’s newest piece in the show.  Once again, we’re given the impression that Stingily’s work is not reaching for a political statement, but emphasizes, with characteristic frankness, that any reflection on where you came from inherently presents one. “Bitch, You Gone Dieis on view with Queer Thoughts in Art Basel’s viewing room until June 26th. -Claire Milbrath

Who Gone Pay For This?, 2020 Lenticular hologram
20h x 30w inches (50.8h x 76.2w cm)

Entryways, 2019
Door with bat, hardware 84.5h x 36w x 48d inches

176 Pl., 2020
Trophies, shelf
19h x 36w x 8d inches

176 Pl., 2020
Trophies, shelf
19h x 36w x 8d inches

Hergott Ore, 2020 Cotton, stuffing 60.9h 182.9w 15d