Josephine Pryde

Josephine Pryde

Work from The Splits at The CAC – la synagogue de Delme.

“In preliminary discussions with the artist, the curator expressed enthusiasm for an exhibition exclusively of photography. He felt that not only had there never been such a display in the building, but he also remained interested in how Josephine Pryde deployed photography in her artwork, perceiving in it various types of resonance and slippage with respect to what he would otherwise assume to be more mundane characteristics of the medium. Josephine Pryde made several visits to the centre d’art contemporain – synagogue de Delme, and came to agree with him that an exhibition containing only photographs would be indeed the direction to take.

The Splits is the result. In it, you will see frames containing one, two or four images, using mirroring and repetition of motifs throughout. Yet the images are also different from one another, are frequently juxtaposed against each other inside one frame, and fall into four distinct categories, which, for the sake of convenience, have been called: Foreboding, Dilemma, Instrument, and Split (or, Sand).

There are several views of two different, but both elaborate, hairstyles. These were created by Sergio Renis, an accomplished hairdresser invited by the artist. The model was Laffy, from the uns* talent agency. The creations are shot from behind, each under different lighting arrangements. They are not the sort of hairstyle you would usually prepare to wear down the street. Are they art? Where is fashion? They sit, prosthetic, a self turned into a haircut. The lighting, in combination with the materials and forms, gives variously an impression of powdery tumours of aristocratic dust, artifice pocked by airy cloud, or of wired-up natural fronds, streaked through with blurry, slippery strands of underwater alienation.

These images are punctuated by panels showing sand, as if to provide both an interruption and a ground, with slight movements perceptible across frames. Visible in some is the slim edge of what could be a phone – with a jack socket, so not new – a model that, while ageing, is still in use, rising here from the surface of the grains, shot soft, rotating, on vibrate.

Where to perceive the Splits of the title? The composition of this very text with which to announce the exhibition has proven a challenge in respect to battling dissociation. How not to forget about the artwork while promoting the show? How to acknowledge the materials used through all stages? How to develop theories derived from that experience, as well as from the sight of the work, its level of content, its production and forthcoming installation, and to put all this into language for distribution? How to navigate the mutations, the multiplications, the flips and juxtapositions that are the properties of images, of files, of scans, of photographs? The potentials of infinity? How to take a long, hard look at the impulse in such texts to insist upon something that would call itself ‘relevance’? Relevance to time, to space, to technology… How on earth? Relevance, a word with its roots in a raising up, and a repeating of same, an etymology which recalls the strain to elevate, in order to make claims, in order to send a petition to belong to the present. But the present fragments! The petition is ineligible!

The Splits experiments in the field of such questions and exclamations, through deployment of barely perceptible displacements and repetitions, through the example of some hair fashions, and their confections and contrivances – becoming merely one site of appeal amidst the dislocated communications of an unsettled present.” The CAC – la synagogue de Delme

Nydia Blas

Nydia Blas

Work from Revival (and the accompanying book)

“Nydia uses photography, collage, video, and books to address matters of sexuality, intimacy, and her lived experience as a girl, woman, and mother. She delicately weaves stories concerning circumstance, value, and power and uses her work to create a physical and allegorical space presented through a Black feminine lens. The result is an environment that is dependent upon the belief that in order to maintain resiliency, a magical outlook is necessary. In this space, props function as extensions of the body, costumes as markers of identity, and gestures/actions reveal the performance, celebration, discovery and confrontation involved in reclaiming one’s body for their own exploration, discovery and understanding.” – KGP Monolith

Lina Iris Viktor

Lina Iris Viktor

Work from Some Art Born to Endless Night – Dark Matter.

“…The second gallery is painted in deep ultramarine blue, emulating the ‘Blue Room’ in the artist’s studio. A meditative space is built within the gallery featuring Syzygy, Viktor’s first figurative canvas reflecting the aesthetic vernacular the artist has developed over the past four years. Also on view are three works from A Haven. A Hell. A Dream Deferred. These works reinterpret the Libyan Sybil, a prophetess from antiquity invoked by eighteenth-century abolitionists as a mythical oracle who foresaw the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

The series explores the extraordinary story of the founding of Liberia to examine fraught narratives of migration, colonialism and oppression. The works brought together in Some Are Born To Endless Night —Dark Matter constitute a bold reclamation of creative agency, and historical and transcultural reimagining. The exhibition reflects the artist and curator’ shared desire to create an all-immersive, symbiotic environment, in which to engage viewers and provide a transformative experience.

“At the core of Lina Iris Viktor’s distinctive practice are complex, cultural narratives and potent mediations on blackness and being: every single one of Viktor’s sumptuous works is layered with profound provocations on history and culture, fuelled by her astute interest in etymology, astrophysics and remedial recovery. In a productive tension between aesthetics and politics, history is creatively reimagined through an emphasis on the circularity of time, and an affirmative excavation of our collective pasts.” – Renée Mussai, Curator

Mandy El-Sayegh

Mandy El-Sayegh

Work from Protective Inscriptions at Lehmann Maupin.

“…For this exhibition, El-Sayegh has created a skin of unstretched canvases that wraps the walls of the gallery, overlaid with a new suite of Net-Grid paintings. A continuation of the artist’s ongoing Net-Grid series (begun in 2013), this installation offers insight into the method of their making. Created through the assemblage of material and overlaid with hand-painted grids, these works represent the process of trapping, distilling, and retaining information, capturing both intended meaning and happenstance associations. Beneath each clean, schematic exterior lies a bruised surface that evokes wounded flesh. This dense material layering is echoed in the accompanying sound work, which reverberates throughout the space, breathing and vibrating in a low hum. Here, El-Sayegh’s dense red grids, intense layers of color, and aural environment work in tandem to create a visceral experience that is both bodily and cerebral.

Drawing on the Buddhist idea of the nine stages of decomposition, El-Sayegh infuses each painting with interstices and flesh-like pigment that represent an ambiguous process, the direction of which (towards healing or towards decay) is deliberately obscured. Here, El- Sayegh’s grid becomes a protective sheath, a girdle holding the damaged tissue of the body together. In one painting, transliterated cut script, El-Sayegh draws on traditional Buddhist woodblock prints, which were often printed on rice paper and worn on the body as a talisman for protection. This work is composed of layers of blue, red, and green pigment, combined with silk- screened images of a Buddhist print, the artist’s father’s calligraphy, Financial Times articles, muslin, and surgical gauze. A self-harm injury, referred to as dermatitis artefacta―a deliberate self-infliction of lesions—is carefully rendered, and is the only hand-painted element in transliterated cut script apart from the grid itself. The piece draws on a specific woodblock print that appears throughout, featuring the eight-armed Bodhisattva Mahapratisara in the center surrounded by the dharani (Buddhist mantra), 33 ritual objects of esoteric Buddhism, mudras, and Bodhisattvas on lotus pedestals…” – Lehmann Maupin

Caroline Turner

Caroline Turner

Work from Hinterland.

We, the prepared
pay our dues to time, once,
twice, forever.

Folding and unfolding,
time remembers
what we shall prepare for
in the future
and what we have failed to prepare for
in the past.

Nature, drunk on instinct,
grounded in its own tangibility,
does what it pleases.

Earth shifts and adapts,
patient and assured as
it calibrates to the chaotic
pulses of nature.

We challenge it.
Count the number of times
the sun
rises and falls, rises and falls.

Prepare for hunger, prepare for pause.
Prepare for discomfort, prepare for isolation.

Harmony revolts,
even as
we propel our wishes into the presumed
space of tomorrow.

They scatter
on the surface of a drifting stream,
unorganized, patternless, lying heavy and flat,
until at last,
they fold into each other,
collapse into themselves,
and thrust forward
to to be eaten by the water

Text in collaboration with Katrina Eresman

Stephanie Syjuco

Stephanie Syjuco

Work from Double Vision.

“…Stephanie Syjuco creates an expansive multimedia installation that transforms images of renowned works from the Carter’s collection and investigates narratives of national identity. Using digital editing, staged photography, and archival excavation to reframe works by Albert Bierstadt, Frederic Remington, and others, Stephanie Syjuco: Double Vision reconsiders mythologies of the American West and reveals how these works and their presentation within a museum can perpetuate colonial lore.

The exhibition, which includes floor-to-ceiling murals digitally reinterpreting two chromolithographs by Bierstadt, draws visitors in, asking us to consider the ways in which artists have participated in developing mythologies of the West. Through new works based on the Carter’s collection, Syjuco’s installation offers a thoughtful consideration of the role of museums in preserving, presenting, and interpreting these works—including details often hidden from public view like photographic and cataloging tools—and the ways in which institutional storytelling perpetuates these narratives. By reflecting on artists’ constructed mythologies of the West and the staging of the artworks within the museum context, Syjuco challenges us to consider what stories we tell about our nation, and what purposes and people they serve.” – Amon Carter Museum of American Art

Tarrah Krajnak

Tarrah Krajnak

Work from Master Rituals II: Weston’s Nudes

“Tarrah Krajnak’s work makes clear reference to the history of photography, on the one hand, and to the artist’s identity as a Latin-American woman, on the other. A sequel to her first critical homage to Ansel Adams, this series is dedicated to another North American “master”, Edward Weston. Krajnak here re-enacts the famous Nudes (shot starting in 1927, and published as a unified work in 1977). She takes the place of models Bertha Wardell and Charis Wilson, reproducing their poses—but also depicts herself as author of the photographs, a remote shutter release in hand. Restoring to the picture what Weston left outside the frame– portions of the model’s body and in particular, her face, whose obliteration tends to make us forget the identity of the two women and participation in the creative process– or emphasizing Weston’s framing choices —what he excluded— using simple wooden panels, Krajnak replays a significant chapter in the history of photography while re-focusing on the role of the female model. Further, she challenges the female stereotypes created and propagated by photography: a white ideal, shaped by male tutelary figures. Through this performative and photographic act, Krajnak affirms her Latin-American identity and her body of color. She creates through her presence and the gesture of image reconstruction a dialogue with her predecessor, Weston, as well as with her contemporary viewers.” – Sonia Voss, Curatorial Statement for the Les Recontres Arles Discovery Award Exhibition.

Tiona Nekkia McClodden

Tiona Nekkia McClodden

Work from Be Alarmed: The Black Americana Epic, Movement III

“Be Alarmed: The Black Americana Epic, Movement III – The Triple Deities is the third movement in the Be Alarmed series. Movement III – The Triple Deities is a multimedia installation, and performance that merges art song, exhibition, film, and sculpture to examine the intersubjectivity of Black women within the context of American society and the Diaspora. The Triple Deities draws its inspiration from the art song “Songs To The Dark Virgin” composed by Florence B. Price in 1941 —the first African American woman to have a composition performed by a major American symphony orchestra. The composition takes its name and lyrics from Langston Hughes poem which was written in 1926. The work considers how African American classical musicians historically used the art song form as a critical tool while examining present-day perspectives.

McClodden has collaborated with composer and pianist Courtney Bryan, who has created an original composition for piano as the film’s score that references to Price’s original composition, as well as a range of traditional African American And Diasporic musical genres and styles. Vocalist Joel Dyson performs both the work in its traditional form and alongside Bryan’s new compositions in a live performance that will take place within the installation of the film.” – Tiona Nekkia McClodden

Featuring Performances by;

Danielle Deadwyler
Linda Harris
Ashley Tai
Tiona Nekkia McClodden
Stylist: Pamela Shephard
Composer + Pianist: Courtney Bryan
Vocals: Joel Dyson
Score Recorded at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and Mixed by LaTasha Bundy in New Orleans, LA
Written, Directed, Edited + Produced by Tiona Nekkia McClodden

***Major support for ‘Be Alarmed: The Black Americana Epic, Movement III – The Triple Deities’ has been provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, with additional support from The Astraea Global Art fund, and the Ossian Fellowship.

Jasmine Clarke

Jasmine Clarke

Work from Shadow of the Palm.

” When I look in the mirror, I want to believe that what I am seeing is an extension of myself even though I know that it isn’t. I’m seeing a reflection (an illusion) of me and my world. I can never quite trust a mirror.

A picture creates a similar false sense of reality. The nature of photography tells us that what we are seeing is true, but it’s not. It is a selective truth, or even a fiction.

One night in Jamaica, as my father and I drove through the mountains, he described a recurring dream: he is in his hometown, Saint Mary’s, at a certain winding road that’s shaped like an N, trying to catch the bus. He misses it and has to run up the mountain through the bush and slide down the other side to catch it. This is his only dream set in Jamaica. He told me as we approached the N. I listened while chewing on my sugar cane. It’s strange hearing about a dreamscape while physically going through it—like déjà vu.

I feel this sense of familiarity driving through my father’s dream. But what’s more overwhelming is the sensation of jamais vu: foreignness in what should be known. The moon you see, the air you breathe, and the flowers you smell are all suddenly unfamiliar. You’ve moved, traveled—maybe even transcended—although you don’t know to where. You look in the mirror and see yourself, but can’t be sure that it’s the same reflection you saw yesterday.

This is why I photograph: to capture a trace of the unexplainable. My pictures are where dreams meet the physical world and earthly things take on higher meaning. I search for the uncanny. I uncover what is hidden. An obscured face, a wet flower, a dark shadow.” – Jasmine Clarke

Welly Fletcher

Welly Fletcher

Work from Elephant Shoe.

“I’ve been thinking about elephants a lot- especially their feet. Their low frequency communications travel beneath the ground, and then elephants ”hear” through their feet, along with their ears. Elephant expression of grief is LOUD, STRONG, FULL. We are lucky to overlap with them; we could learn a lot about living by learning to listen better.

I’ve been thinking about queerness, too. What it is today; how my thoughts and perspectives have shifted in my 43 years. How queerness is, for me, a form of resistance, difference, love, non-normative life-being-lived. Queerness is paying enough attention to know what normative is, and what power-structures hold it up, and how I can more intentionally pursue other options, to be active in my dismantling.

We have so much to learn from other ways of living, other types of life. Our particular flavor of human stupidity can be so harmful. Our consciousness can be so unconscious and unconscientious; careless, selfish, with extremely high costs. It hurts to witness, and to be a part of. I turn to elephants, and others, seeking alternate ways forward. I’m a big believer that sculpture, too, can be an antidote to some of the particular dis-eases we suffer from today, through its offering of embodied, intersectional, poetic encounters.

My partner told me that when a person silently says ”elephant-shoe,” it looks a lot like ”I love you.” So, elephant-shoe: elephants, coyotes, fish, birds, insects, rock, metal, trees, clay, di rt – al I these forms of intelligence far (far, far, far) superior to the regular human kind…

And elephant-shoe to you, too. Thanks for witnessing this new work.-” Welly Fletcher