Tuesday, September 14, 2010

"National" and David Hammons

David Hammons - Concerto in Black and Blue (mixed media) 2002 : visitors to the gallery were given small blue-bulb flashlights to navigate the dark and empty rooms of the Ace Gallery, NYC.

"It is an unfortunate fact that in this country, black artists' work seldom serves as the basis of rigorous, object-based debate. Instead, it is almost uniformly generalized, endlessly summoned to prove it's representativeness (or defend its lack of same) and contracted to show-and-tell on behalf of an abstract and unchanging 'culture of origin.' For all this, the art gains little purchase on the larger social, cultural, historical, and aesthetic formations to which it nevertheless directs itself with increasing urgency. And in the long term, it runs the risk of moving beyond serious thought and debate. Viewed this way, the given and necessary character of black art - as a framework for understanding what black artists do - emerges as a problem in itself."
-from How to See a Work of Art in Total Darkness. Darby English. 2007

In a forthcoming ammendment to my curatorial statement for National, I hope to borrow this notion of culturally pigeonholed artwork that only comments on "culture of origin" to challenge expectations of what the artists in my exhibition are doing.

installation view of National, at University Galleries, Illinois State University; left to right: Rebecca Mir, Flag for the Nation of Rubaccaquon (green, silver, and purple fabric, flag pole, flag mount) 2010; Allison Yasukawa, Eclipsing a Sun (ladder, light, thread, altered Japanese flag, daughter [absent]) 2010; Maria Gaspar, Untitled [as of yet] (latex paint on wall) 2010

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