Young, Gifted, and Black: Transforming Visual Media
Curated by Shanté Cozier and Dionne Lee
November 8 – December 15, 2012
Opening Reception: Thursday, November 8, 6-8pm
Young, Gifted & Black: Transforming Visual Media, guest-curated by Shanté Cozier and Dionne Lee, presents five artists using the mediums of film, video, and photography to propel a shift in the ways that cultural identity is understood. This exhibition, part of CCNY’s Guest Curators Program, brings together a diverse group who counter cultural stereotypes with new forms of identity and self-expression through their work.
Throughout the history of the black diaspora, the constant creation and delivery of images via the media and pop culture has profoundly shaped the expectations of many. The danger of these images is its lack of diversity and its limited understanding of people of African descent. The breadth and width of the history of the black diaspora is immense, and attempts by the mainstream to categorize it inadvertently and unjustly condense that history. To rectify this, images that act as cultural indicators need be transformed. Working from personal experience, the artists in this exhibition offer powerful, multi-faceted explorations of their own identities. The artists and curators of this exhibition believe it is this broad range of everyday experience and an emphasis on a greater understanding of the self that deserves more public attention, compared to the predictable and misleading stereotypes that so often inundate this society. The multi-media approach, and the active imagery used by the artists in Young, Gifted & Black, echoes the call for a more compelling picture of the multi-faceted, evolving, cultural identity of the African diaspora, propelling forward an understanding of cultural identity beyond the stagnant, singular, and often over-simplified conceptions that have been presented throughout history by pop-culture and mass media.
Sondra Perry is a multi-media artist working in installation, video, sound, performance and digital imagery. Perry investigates themes of desire, materiality, labor and power, historiography and the performativity of race and gender. Interested in people’s relationships to historical narratives, Perry recalls the past, history’s inherent slippages, and how our nostalgic mutations manifest themselves. The work in this exhibition comes fromBlack Pieces, four aesthetically and conceptually related videos and still photographs. The Black Pieces are a series of images that try to strip themselves of their technological and historical bindings.
Xaviera Simmons’ self-portraits bring questions of constructed African-American identities and their relationship to their settings to the forefront. Working in photography, audio, sculpture, performance, and video, Simmons explores history, narrative, and cultural reflection.
Terence Nance weaves together a document, animation, and sound, into a formal space elastic enough to accommodate the narrative oddness of real life. Utilizing a tapestry of live action and various styles of animation, Nance explores the fantasies, emotions, and memories that race through his mind exploring a specific time for him when a relationship teetered on the divide between platonic and romantic.
Numa Perrier is a mixed media artist working in photography, self-portraiture, film, collage, and conceptual installation. Perrier’s work often explores the feminine experience as it relates to race, ritual, and relationships. Her film, which features herself, is an experimental comparative analysis of a real live woman versus the projected imager(ry) of a plastic one. The piece explores how we are manufactured by the self and by others.
Mohau Modisakeng often relies on self-portraiture to reference his experience and identity as a black man in post-apartheid South Africa. His work will be featured in the fall exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA) in NEWSFEED: Anonymity & Social Media in African Revolutions and Beyond, curated by the museum’s curatorial fellows Jessica L. Moore and Nelson Nance. Modisakeng lives and works between Johannesburg and Cape Town. His work will be presented via QR Code in partnership with MoCADA. To emphasize the prevalence of new media, the QR code will be on display in CCNY’s gallery, linking to a video narration of the artists work on view at MoCADA.
– Shanté Cozier and Dionne Lee