Thomas Prior – Amen Break
The Amen Break is a singular sample of a 4 bar drum solo that went on to change the course of music in the 20th century. Originally derived from 7 seconds of a soul B-side, with the rise of hip hop in the 1980s the break was widely sampled and became a staple of drum and bass and jungle music. It has been used on thousands of tracks of many genres, making it one of the most sampled recordings of all time.
Thomas Prior’s Amen Break turns its gaze on 2020, and the moment where his city of New York ground to a standstill. Prior, whose documentary photographic practice is rooted in the street, found himself stalking the once-bustling commercial districts of his city, absorbing the moment where conventional ideas around daily life, from the personal to the political, were upended and created a searching dialogue about health, welfare, race, civil rights, the economy, and ultimately the future. Prior evokes the Amen Break to consider how singular events—the murder of George Floyd, the responsibility of individual choices on health and wellbeing, and the behaviour of single individuals in power—can create unending ripples on the future, a beat and rhythm against which history is composed.
The images in Amen Break hover delicately around the tumult and uncertainty of this year, creating an uncanny mix of tranquillity and stillness, which under the surface bubbles with tension, emotion and suffering. A swirling, rushing city comes to a deceptively peaceful stop - missed delivery slips litter empty windows, yellowing newspapers decompose on stoops, and naked mannequins bear witness to one of the greatest periods of economic and social turmoil in living memory. Dwelling alongside these small marks of absence are looted shopfronts, political posters, the aftermath of protests, makeshift morgues and a wholesale redrawing of urban space, ushering in a new order of everyday life.
Presented as a large-format newspaper, Amen Break takes the moment of 2020 and looks outward from a decisive year to contemplate what comes next. With the release of this publication, we will be donating a portion of proceeds towards 9 Million Reasons, NYC’s largest and farthest-reaching community food pantry that provides free food for anyone in need. All contributions from Loose Joints will additionally be 100% matched by a private sponsor.
- Limited print edition also available, edition of 100 copies with accompanying 10 × 12” Digital C-type, signed by the artist.
- 72 pages, 47 colour plates, 280 × 395 mm
- Unbound newspaper with silkscreened card cover
- ISBN 978-1-912719-22-8
- December 2020