The art of Kevin Blythe Sampson



Hyperallergic ArtRx NYC by Jillian Steinhauer on August 11, 2015

Last Chance: Last Andrew Edlin Show in Chelsea
When: Closes Friday, August 14
Where: Andrew Edlin Gallery (134 Tenth Avenue, Chelsea, Manhattan)
Andrew Edlin’s space in Chelsea — and the Bellwether Gallery space before it — was always a little awkward: an entryway followed by a hallway, then the proper gallery (which is small). But by the sheer number of shows I’ve seen there, I’ve developed an admitted attachment to it, and Edlin’s final show there puts it one of its best uses. The exhibition features directly-on-the-wall murals by seven artists, including a gorgeously enigmatic installation by Saya Woolkfalk up front that stops you in your tracks on the street.
 But it’s Kevin Sampson’s piece in the back that swiftly steals the show; dense, frenetic, and razor sharp, the work is the most stunningly potent piece of political art I’ve seen in a long time.


Two Chelsea Galleries Go Wall Out for Summer

Chris Doyle, "Everhigher" (2015) at Andrew Edlin Gallery (all photos by the author for Hyperallergic)
Chris Doyle, “Everhigher” (2015) at Andrew Edlin Gallery (all photos by the author for Hyperallergic) (click to enlarge)
‘Tis the season of reduced hours and low-stakes group shows at most Manhattan galleries, but two spaces in Chelsea are bucking the trend with summer exhibitions of large-scale murals. Andrew Edlin Gallery, as a final hurrah at its Tenth Avenue space before relocating to the Bowery, has mounted Anthems for the Mother Earth Goddess, a show of seven site-specific murals and installations reflecting on environmental and political issues. Meanwhile, for Hello Walls, Gladstone Gallery‘s 21st Street and 24th Street spaces have been transformed with wall-filling paintings, drawings, collages, and text pieces by 16 artists. Though they have the mural format in common, the shows are aesthetically divergent, with many of the artists at Edlin taking an approach that’s more maximalist and overtly political (per the exhibition brief), while the works at Gladstone are, for the most part, subdued and supersized formal exercises. But a few more risqué or outright unhinged works in the Gladstone exhibition (I’m looking at you, Raymond Pettibon) make for some pleasantly surprising echoes and overlaps between these two summer affairs.
Saya Woolfalk, "ChimaTEK: Future Relic" (2015) at Andrew Edlin Gallery
Saya Woolfalk, “ChimaTEK: Future Relic” (2015) at Andrew Edlin Gallery (click to enlarge)
At Edlin, the first work visitors will see — indeed, it’s such a gripping sight through the gallery’s glass façade that it probably compels countless passersby to come in — is Saya Woolfalk‘s sci-fi installation “ChimaTEK: Future Relic” (2015). But with no explanation on hand about the post-apocalyptic cosmology informing the artist’s aesthetic, the piece’s environmental message may not come across. Lining the gallery’s long hallway is Peter Fend‘s “Olya” (2015), a scale rendering of a submarine designed to convert the plastic particles floating in earth’s oceans into energy with text explaining how the sub will herald a new global economy based on recycling. It suffers from the opposite problem of Woolfalk’s work: too much explanation and too little to look at.
The gallery’s back room is the real draw here, especially the three enormous murals by Kevin Sampson, Brian Adam Douglas, and Chris Doyle. (A fourth, “Present Tense” by Rigo 23, is a capable infographic listing the eight countries that still don’t have mandatory paid maternity leave, the largest being the United States.) Douglas and Doyle both imagine epic flood scenes. The former’s piece, “The Rain Dogs” (2015), is characteristically surreal, rendered entirely in black, white, and gray, and reminiscent of the photos of devastation wrought by hurricanes Sandy and Katrina. Doyle’s polychrome painting, “Everhigher” (2015), features a sci-fi metropolis that is either a city-sized water park, or in the midst of a devastating flood. At the center of the composition, a statue resembling Vladimir Lenin stands atop a water slide in the shape of a coiled dragon.
Detail of Kevin Sampson, "Fruit of the Poisonus Tree" (2015) at Andrew Edlin Gallery
Detail of Kevin Sampson, “Fruit of the Poisonus Tree” (2015) at Andrew Edlin Gallery (click to enlarge)
Both are fanciful and superbly executed renderings of engrossing alternate worlds, but neither can compete with the intensity of Sampson’s mural, “Fruit of the Poisonous Tree” (2015), which seems to encompass nods to every contemporary environmental, political, social justice, and economic issue in the US. Four Klu Klux Klan knights at the bottom of the composition are branded with “Monsanto,” “Keystone,” “Fracking,” and “RNC” (for the Republican National Committee), while the ailing tree that stands at the center of the wall is marked with the sites of recent police murders of black people including Ferguson, Staten Island, and Baltimore. Swastikas, Confederate flags, and crucifix-shaped oil wells punctuate the mural, whose constellation of words and figures also includes a robotic bovine deity reminiscent of the sorts of creatures that inhabit Woolfalk’s videos. It is the most powerful and comprehensive portrayal of the state of things in the US circa 2015 that I have seen, and the prospect of its loss when Edlin’s building is demolished to make way for condos is alarming. (Perhaps the American Folk Art Museum will pursue an emergency acquisition.)
Raymond Pettibon, "No Title (Arts and letters...)" (2015) at Gladstone Gallery
Raymond Pettibon, “No Title (Arts and letters…)” (2015) at Gladstone Gallery (click to enlarge)
Almost any mural would look safe and subdued by comparison, and the works at Gladstone are no exception. That said, a few pieces in Hello Walls do make a strong impression. Amid the summery fodder at the gallery’s 21st Street space — the sunny rings of Ugo Rondinone’s “vierterjunizweitausendundfünfzehn” (2015), the orange and blue splatter of Arturo Herrera’s “Come Again” (2015) — Raymond Pettibon’s  “No Title (Arts and letters…)” (2015) is full of manic energy and strange, disjointed imagery. At the core of the piece, which includes Johnny Rotten fellating a satanic unicorn and a father-son wrestler duo sparring, is a half-formed idea about the breeding of athletic talent and sporting dynasties. The enigmatic result is by far the most compelling piece in Gladstone’s 21st Street building.
On 24th Street, things are not much different, and it’s Wangechi Mutu‘s “A planet full of Snakes” (2015) that stands above the rest. (Although a Sol LeWitt wall drawing from 1980 unexpectedly emerges as Hello Walls‘s most seasonally appropriate work, its trapezoid of yellow lines on a blue and red backdrop looking alternately like a pier jutting into the ocean or a beach towel spread on the sand.) Even Kara Walker‘s wall piece “Auntie Walker’s Wall Sampler for Civilians” (2013), though it’s the only explicitly political work on view at Gladstone, reads like a recap, or, true to its title, a sampler. Mutu’s mural, meanwhile, features an orb of collaged snake bodies with no heads — some of which seem to be spouting blood — and motorcycle parts. The rest of the wall is scattered with disembodied snake heads, their neck stumps marked with splatters of crimson paint. This scene of interstellar reptile genocide makes nearby murals by Daniel Buren, Jeff Elrod, Karl Holmqvist, Neil Campbell, and others look painfully dull. The only thing that could make Mutu’s contribution better is if she had given the piece the seemingly obvious pun title “Snakes on a Planet.”
The contrast between Hello Walls and Anthems for the Mother Earth Goddess may simply be the product of having been produced by two very different galleries. Nevertheless, it’s thrilling how politically engaged and elaborate the murals at Edlin are, while those at Gladstone offer a more purely visual kind of satisfaction from their formal experiments with color, texture, and imagery. The scant overlap between the two makes for interesting comparisons — or, at least, an enjoyable summer aesthetic fling.
Wangechi Mutu, "A planet full of Snakes" (2015) at Gladstone Gallery
Wangechi Mutu, “A planet full of Snakes” (2015) at Gladstone Gallery (click to enlarge)
Detail of Chris Doyle, "Everhigher" (2015) at Andrew Edlin Gallery (all photos by the author for Hyperallergic)
Detail of Chris Doyle, “Everhigher” (2015) at Andrew Edlin Gallery
Brian Adam Douglas, "The Rain Dogs" (2015) at Andrew Edlin Gallery
Brian Adam Douglas, “The Rain Dogs” (2015) at Andrew Edlin Gallery (click to enlarge)
Kevin Sampson, "Fruit of the Poisonus Tree" (2015) at Andrew Edlin Gallery
Kevin Sampson, “Fruit of the Poisonus Tree” (2015) at Andrew Edlin Gallery (click to enlarge)
Rigo 23, "Present Tense" (2015) at Andrew Edlin Gallery
Rigo 23, “Present Tense” (2015) at Andrew Edlin Gallery (click to enlarge)
Detail of Peter Fend, "Olya" (2015) at Andrew Edlin Gallery
Detail of Peter Fend, “Olya” (2015) at Andrew Edlin Gallery (click to enlarge)
Ugo Rondinone, "vierterjunizweitausendundfünfzehn" (2015) at Gladstone Gallery
Ugo Rondinone, “vierterjunizweitausendundfünfzehn” (2015) at Gladstone Gallery
Arturo Herrera, "Come Again" (2015, left) and Michael Craig-Martin, "To Go" (2015, right) at Gladstone Gallery
Arturo Herrera, “Come Again” (2015, left) and Michael Craig-Martin, “To Go” (2015, right) at Gladstone Gallery
Detail of Raymond Pettibon, "No Title (Arts and letters...)" (2015) at Gladstone Gallery
Detail of Raymond Pettibon, “No Title (Arts and letters…)” (2015) at Gladstone Gallery
Lawrence Weiner, "LANGUAGE + THE MATERIAL REFERRED TO" (2010, left), Kara Walker, "Auntie Walker's Wall Sampler for Civilians" (2013, right)
Lawrence Weiner, “LANGUAGE + THE MATERIAL REFERRED TO” (2010, left), Kara Walker, “Auntie Walker’s Wall Sampler for Civilians” (2013, right) at Gladstone Gallery (click to enlarge)
Detail of Wangechi Mutu, "A planet full of Snakes" (2015) at Gladstone Gallery
Detail of Wangechi Mutu, “A planet full of Snakes” (2015) at Gladstone Gallery
Sol LeWitt, "#333: On a blue wall, red vertical parallel lines, and in the center of the wall, a trapezoid within which are yellow horizontal parallel lines. The vertical lines do not enter the figure" (May 1980) at Gladstone Gallery
Sol LeWitt, “#333: On a blue wall, red vertical parallel lines, and in the center of the wall, a trapezoid within which are yellow horizontal parallel lines. The vertical lines do not enter the figure” (May 1980) at Gladstone Gallery
Anthems for the Mother Earth Goddess continues at Andrew Edlin Gallery (134 Tenth Avenue, Chelsea, Manhattan) through August 14.
Hello Walls continues at Gladstone Gallery (530 West 21st Street and 515 West 24th Street, Chelsea, Manhattan) through July 31.


Review: ‘Anthems for the Mother Earth Goddess’ By KEN JOHNSON JULY 9, 2015

Review: ‘Anthems for the Mother Earth Goddess’

Andrew Edlin Gallery
134 10th Avenue, near 18th Street, Chelsea
Through Aug. 15
As the invasion of Chelsea by giant glass boxes continues at a breakneck pace, Andrew Edlin is moving on (to the Lower East Side), its small, antiquated building slated for demolition. “Anthems for the Mother Earth Goddess,” a provocatively plaintive group show of temporary murals and one sculpture installation, is the gallery’s last exhibition at this location.
Four paintings in the main exhibition space cover the walls from floor to ceiling. Focused on a futuristic hermaphrodite and a rhinoceros, Kevin Sampson’s visionary “Fruit of the Poisonous Tree” protests almost everything about modern society, including the recent deaths of young black men at the hands of police officers. Brian Adam Douglas’s “The Rain Dogs” is a grisaille, Social Realist-style painting of people piled up in a small boat, with rooftops slightly above floodwaters in the background. In bright, sharply outlined colors, Chris Doyle’s “Everhigher” depicts an absurd utopia of high-rise residential buildings. “Present Tense,” a graphically bold diagram by Rigo 23, identifies the last nations on earth without mandatory maternity leave, one of which is, of course, the United States.
“ChimaTEK: Future Relic,” Saya Woolfalk’s optically dazzling installation in the gallery’s front room, revolves around a female mannequin adorned with jewelry and lace — a New Age goddess figure. Katerina Lanfranco’s “Tomorrow Dreams of Neon” envisions a luminous, post-apocalyptic Eden. Only Peter Fend’s “Olya” proposes a pragmatic idea: a submarine designed to turn ocean biomass into methane fuel.
Sadly, the cumulative feeling of all this is of a kind of urgent helplessness, for no matter what, the building and its murals will soon be nothing but rubble.


Dread Scott: Radical Conscience

Dread Scott: Radical Conscience
by A.M. Weaver
On the Impossibility of Freedom in a Country Founded on Slavery and Genocide,, 2014.
Dread Scott’s edict is make “revolutionary art—to propel history forward.” Since the early 1990s, after graduating from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and completing the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Independent Study Program, Scott has joined the ranks of historical/political artists, following in the footsteps of John Heartfield, George Grosz, and Leon Golub, along with his activist contemporaries Ai Weiwei, Nari Ward, and Berry Bickle. By using his work to raise awareness of social injustices, Scott makes clear his intention of challenging the status quo. He employs irony and humor to make powerful statements pertaining to pressing issues, including freedom of speech on a global level, state-levied violence against citizens, class inequality, and racially motivated oppression. In Scott’s lexicon, the phrase “by any means necessary” means deploying performance, installation, collage, and painting to convey his ideas and ideology. Without being didactic, he convincingly articulates the concerns of marginalized communi­-ties across America—the incarcerated, urban youth, and the 99%.

Historic Corrections, which was included in “Screenings: Public & Private” (2004) at a small museum in southern New Jersey, offers a good introduction to his thought- ful shock tactics. Scott’s contribution to this exhibition exploring representations of the black body beyond stereotypes featured images of incarcerated black and Latino men juxtaposed against a photomural backdrop of the 1919 lynching of William Brown. A replica of a wooden electric chair stood in the center of the installation, surrounded by mechanized police batons mounted on wooden stands. Historic Corrections knocked a sleepy suburban community out of its somnolent state and initiated a dialogue about everyday inequities just outside the museum’s doors. The batons, each striking a cast fiberglass head every 10 seconds with a hard, resounding blow, were linked to live, unedited reports from a police radio. Viewers could walk through the environment and experience it from different perspectives: sometimes seeing the “urban youth” as jailed criminals, and other times, sharing their space. Everyone who confronted the work felt its impact. Many viewers of color sympathized with the sentiment of the piece, while some white viewers cringed and questioned the relevance of mounting such at work at a museum.

Historic Corrections, 1998.
Historic Corrections, 1998.
Courting controversy is not new for Scott. His performance work, Money to Burn (2010), part of his “It’s the Economy Stupid!” series, predated Occupy Wall Street by a year. In this case, Scott was a soothsayer, a John the Baptist crying in the wilderness about economic affairs in the United States and paving the way for organized protests. His 1988 work What is the Proper Way to Display a US Flag? gen­erated hundreds of responses from visitors to the gallery of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a direct rebuttal from then-President Bush. In creating this con­troversial installation, Scott’s intent was to defy compulsory patriotism. His efforts continued with an action in which he (together with Joey Johnson—defendant in the 1988 Supreme Court flag burning case—Dave Blalock, and Sean Eichman) burned flags on the steps of the Capitol Building to protest the Flag Protection Act of 1989. As Scott describes it, this act “would have outlawed criticism of the flag, which is one step from outlawing criticism of the government. The legisla­tion contained specific wording that was added in response to, and which would outlaw…What is the Proper Way to Display a US Flag?” In 1990, he and his col­laborators appeared before the Supreme Court in United States v. Eichman as a consequence of their protest.

Scott was not raised as a revolutionary, though his mother was fairly radical, her political views inspired by the ferment of the 1960s and shaped by the philosophy of the Panthers. His father, on the other hand, was politically conservative, and he believed that the way to uplift black people resided solely in hard work, though as a small businessman, his experiences with racism hindered the family’s economic success.

Scott’s activism began to emerge during his college years, when he was trying to make sense of the world. He was greatly influenced by the punk scene and the writings of Bob Avakian, and he eventually became a supporter of the Revolutionary Communist Party. America at that time was in the throes of an escalated Cold War. Scott cites Ronald Reagan as instrumental in the instigation of proxy wars in Nicaragua, El Salvador, South Africa, and Mozambique, not to mention the nuclear arms race. The politicization of Dread Scott commenced under this climate of instability and uncertainty, and armed with a philosophical base and time to research, he surfaced as an artist committed to sociopolitical engagement. His professional name—part reminder of the Dred Scott case and part conceptual play on fear—is an essential part of that artistic identity.
Wanted, 2014.
Wanted, 2014.

Rather than taking objects and recoding them, Scott uses objects already charged with polarizing significance—the American flag, the electric chair, the Constitution, the Bible, the black male body—and recontextualizes them in ways that coerce reconsideration. In the performance I Am Not a Man (2009), Scott walked the streets of Harlem in symbolic protest. The crucially altered sign that he carried recalls the signs used in the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Strike, a major civil rights protest that sought equal treatment and safer working conditions for black sanitation workers. Scott’s appropriation of that famous sign and his addition of the word “not” pay homage to civil rights-era struggles while underscoring the limitations of those efforts. Intentionally stumbling and losing his pants, he punctuated the hour-long walk with humiliating moments designed to elicit reactions from passersby while calling attention to the persistence of racism in American society.

Since 2000, he has increasingly addressed the issue of racial profiling, the identification of black men as criminals by the police and the American government via the justice system and policing tactics used in urban, suburban, and rural communities. This issue has come under acute public scrutiny since the death of Trayvon Martin at the hands of a vigilante and the grand jury verdicts in the cases of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, and events continue to unfold as more and more incidents are witnessed and brought to light across the country. Public opinion has viewed the deaths of black men at the hands of police in Ferguson, New York, Baltimore, and other cities as wrongful, and innumerable protests have filled the streets of towns across the U.S. since August 2014. (During “Radical Presence,” a 2014 exhibition at Minneapolis’ Walker Art Center devoted to the performance art of black artists, Scott and other participants posted up-to-the-minute blogs reacting to current events.)

Postcode Criminals (2011–12) foreshadowed the rise in public consciousness concerning extreme policing tactics such as Stop and Frisk, a strategy that targets black and Latino urban youth in the U.S., and Stop and Search in England. Collaborating with Joann Krushner, a London-based artist, Scott encouraged more than 100 youths to tell their stories through photography, film, collage, and poetry, describing a world in which they are constantly under surveillance and subjected to interrogation by the police. The educational aspect of this project, which introduced participants to diverse technologies, culminated in a multimedia exhibition at the Rush Gallery in 2011. At the same show, Scott premiered Stop, a compelling video installation of life-size, projected images of six New York and Liverpool youths, who recite the number of times they were subjected to Stop and Frisk/ Stop and Search policing tactics. The young men ranged in age from 19 to 29.

Scott critiques American society from diverse angles and conveys its contradictions, especially in relation to the declaration of inalienable rights—life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Gazing through the lens of marginalized communities, he exposes the underbelly of a capitalist system that exists within and subverts a dem­ocratic matrix. Arrested innumerable times for his protests and public performance works, Scott brings to public consciousness hidden realities within the American landscape—attitudes and practices that in recent years have ignited into clear focus.

Let 100 Flowers Blossom, Let 100 Schools of Thought Contend, 2007.
Let 100 Flowers Blossom, Let 100 Schools of Thought Contend, 2007.
Scott exhibits widely throughout the U.S.; his most recent works include Dread Scott: Decision, a performance piece built on understanding democracy’s roots in slavery that was first staged at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York. In 2014, No Longer Empty sponsored Wanted, his community-based project addressing the criminalization of youth in America. A series of fake wanted posters, each featuring a “police sketch” of a young adult, a description, and a statement of the alleged offence, appeared throughout the streets of Harlem. The sketches, executed by former police forensic sketch artist Kevin Blythe Sampson, are simultaneously specific and meaningless, just like the “offenses”: for instance, “On Saturday May 17, 2014, at approximately 12:30 AM, a male black, 16–24 years of age was wearing a black waist length jacket and dark pants. The male was observed engaging in conversation with other males.” Earlier this year, Historic Corrections was re-installed in “Counterpublic” at The Luminary in St. Louis. The 1998 installation will be restaged as the performance Historic Corrections: Slave Rebellion Reenactment in New Orleans in 2017, reenacting the largest slave rebellion in American history, the German Coast Uprising, near New Orleans in 1811.

A.M. Weaver is a writer based in Philadelphia.

Watch these videos on Dread Scott and his work

Listen to audio from the piece ...Or Does it Explode? here.
Scroll to the bottom of the page to listen.

For more information on Dread Scott click here.

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Living with Art: From Elia Alba’s Collection Kevin Blythe Sampson's work is included

“Living with Art” is a series that examines the private collection of artists. Our innagural edition started with artist Nicky Enright writing about his art “accumulation”(as he calls it). We find that artists, being makers of art, have a special appreciation for how experiencing art on a daily basis enriches their life and work.
This month, we are lucky to have award-winning artist Elia Alba choose a few pieces from her collection to share her stories about special friendships, memories from important moments in her personal and artistic growth, and sources of inspiration.
Friends know award-winning artist Elia Alba has a wonderful contemporary art collection. As an artist, she has exhibited her multi-media conceptual artworks in prestigious museums in the U.S. and abroad. The culmination of Alba's current critically-acclaimed project, The Supper Club, is highly anticipated by the art world.
When I started off as an artist, I was primarily working in abstraction, but my art slowly evolved after the birth of my son into figurative work. The ‘body in art’ has been the fundamental source of inspiration for my entire practice of the last 15 years, and the work that I have in my collection reflects this. Most of the works are by artist friends with whom I have made exchanges or who gifted work to me,a very nice perk of being an artist. From performance art to photography to drawing, my collection is an exploration of black, brown and queer bodies in space. Here are some highlights of my collection!
Rajikamal Kahlon, Pow Pow (from Cassell’s illustrated history of india) 2003, gouache on nineteen century book paper, 7” x 20” courtesy of the artist
Rajikamal Kahlon is one of the first artists whose work I collected. I purchased a small drawing from her during her time at the Whitney Independent Study Program in 2001-2 (at a crazy discount!). We became friends soon after and we have traded 3 times after that purchase. Most of Raj’s work in my collection comes from her project Cassell’s Illustrated History of India. The drawings and paintings are done on unbounded pages of the book of the same name that she purchased from Sotheby’s for $400. The works, at times humorous and at times grotesque, respond to and deconstruct the book’s original intent. With her work she grapples with her relationship to India’s history by creating charged and fragmented narratives to address colonialism as well as the brown body.
Emily Roysdon, Untitled (David Wojnarowicz project), 2001-2007, silver gelatin print, 11” x 14”, courtesy of the artist
Another artist in my collection — and someone I met during our time at the Whitney ISP (2000-1) — is Emily Roysdon. Emily was barely out of the gate when she made this amazing photograph I have in my collection. Part of the series Untitled (David Wojnarowicz project), Emily and her friends donned a hand-drawn mask of David Wojnarowicz and photographed themselves throughout New York City. Clearly an homage to Wojnarowicz’ 1978-9 series Arthur Rimbaud in New York, Emily’s project was a source of inspiration for my own Larry Levan photographic series,which likewise looks to and engages with Wojnarowicz’ series Emily too juxtaposes a historical time — that of Wojnarowicz — with her present to keep him engaged in a queer but feminist backdrop. I chose what I thought was the most sexually-charged of all the images and, for me, the most powerful.
Kevin Blythe Sampson, Africa Weeps, 2001, ball point pen ink, ledger cover, 8”x 14”, Courtesy of the artist
Kevin Blythe Sampson is obsessive to say the least! The last time I was in his studio in 2001 the ceiling was strung with chicken bones, all of which he had consumed. There were a lot of bones which, by the way, he often uses in his sculptural practice. Kevin, an exceptional self-taught artist and former police officer from Newark NJ, tackles difficult issues that concern him and his community. On that last visit, the walls were covered with dense, powerful, ballpoint pen drawings he had been working on for over a month. If I remember correctly, he said he does these when he can’t sleep! (Yowza, that’s a lot of no sleep!!!) I was admiring the entire environment when he handed me this amazing drawing he had done on the inside cover of a ledger.
The title on the drawing is Africa Weeps, and it depicts a very sad yet phallic African sculptural figure, surrounded by a rain of tears or what could possibly be sperm. In the drawing is a quote that says: “The motherland is turning to dust so where will our souls rest now — AIDs!” It’s beautiful and sad at the same time!
Janelle & Lisa Iglesias in collaboration with Bodhild Iglesias, From the Nude Suits Series (Tasmania), 2010-ongoing, Digital c-print and custom hand knit and embroidered suits, 11”x15”, Courtesy of the artists
 Janelle & Lisa Iglesias are two sisters of Dominican / Norwegian descent from Queens! They are artists with individual practices but also have a collaborative practice called “Las Hermanas Iglesias.” As a gift to me for including them in my current project, The Supper Club, the sisters gave me a beautiful photograph from their Nude Suit Series (Tasmania). Here the sisters collaborated with their mother, Bodhild Iglesias, who hand-knitted the custom suits complete with tan lines, to which the sisters then embroidered the scars and tattoos to complete the suit. This work holds a very special place in my heart as I too collaborated with my mom on nude suits, but they were photocopy transfers on fabric. I see this work as a kind of ying to my yang. In the playful yet serious photograph, the sisters sitting on top of a rocky coastline present an image that makes us reimagine or rethink the nude in nature.
Clifford Owens, Tell Me What to Do With Myself, 2005, b&w prints, 5” x 7”, Courtesy of the artist
Lastly, another fellow Whitney ISP 2000-1 alum, performance artist Clifford Owens is someone who has traded with me throughout the years. One particular work that always stands out is a suite of photographs from a performance he created for MoMA/PS1’s “Greater New York: 2005” exhibition titled Tell Me What to Do with Myself. A precursor to his seminal Anthology series he did 5 years later, this performance entailed the audience instructing him what do as they were either lying down on the floor looking at the performance through a peephole or standing in a room viewing the performance through video monitors. Clifford has considered this a complicated piece and for me this makes sense. Here audience engagement was anonymous and, as a witness to that performance, it was most alarming the way the group as whole was reacting to the commands of others: there was a certain amount of glee in causing Clifford pain. It made the performance very charged and the artist very vulnerable. The images in the collection capture Clifford in different stages of movement.
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