The term “silhouette” activates a range of thought. Positive associations include the cut of flattering a dress or suit, or a vintage cameo pin that may have graced a grandmother’s sweater. Less than pleasant associations, particularly when the synonym “profile” is considered, suggest presumed or actual criminality, a harrowing passage through this country’s legal gauntlet, and the loss of one’s liberty. Enter Silhouettes, the debut solo exhibition of portraits by San Francisco-based artist Erica Deeman that plumb the intersection of race, gender, and cultural identity, on view through June 11th at Berkley Art Museum/ Pacific Film Archive in San Francisco.
The 2016 presidential election results left many feeling a wave of shock and unease. Seattle-based artist Serrah Russell channelled this disquiet into 100 Days of Collage, a series of daily meditations reflecting on the past and the ambiguous future of a newly changing world. They are simple, yet remarkably layered - fusing disparate images from issues of National Geographic and various fashion magazines to build a narrative that combines defeatist confusion with a glimmer of molotov, hope and resistance. Russell captions each piece with titles like "And how we have kept quiet," "This is to protect you, they said," and "The stars have died, but we won't know for years to come," -- words that could serve as their own book of poems or revolutionary wall scribblings, and recall many of the cryptic passages in Margaret Atwood's classic The Handmaid's Tale. An appropriate subtitle for the project could be the novel's line of resistance: "Nolites Te Bastardes Carborundorum" ("Don't Let The Bastards Grind You Down.") Russell is presently fundraising to produce a large format book of the work through a series of one-day-only flash sales. Behold Serrah Russell's 100 Days of Collage. We've included her statement at the end of this post, so scroll, look and read on.
To learn more about Serrah Russell's larger practice and ideas, read this interview on Lenscratch
On March 11th, in recognition of Women's History Month, Columbia University's Institute for Research in African-American Studies is hosting Women Picturing Revolution: Focus on Africa and the African Diaspora, a one-day seminar co-created and taught by Lesly Deschler Canossi and Zoraida Lopez-Diago that re-examines history with a radical lens.
A pared-down version of the online exhibition, the show includes photography and video work curated by Humble's co-founder Jon Feinstein. Art, literature, and pop culture have a legacy of positing sci-fi fantasies of the world to come, which often contain parallels to the uncertainties of the current social and political climate. This exhibition approaches these present day premonitions with a similarly precarious gaze. Some artists offer optimistic, utopian angles, others look at the present-future with a dystopian pessimism, and many offer a blurry hybrid. With work that ranges from eerily lit portraits to animated gifs and analog collage, the exhibition hinges on its curatorial ambiguity.
Over the past decade, there's been a resurged pop-fascination with GIFs. While much of this has been couched in millennial-targeted apps like GIPHY, and brand powerhouses like Mr. Gif, there's a gamut of art photographers using the medium to reimagine photography's potential, and to explore a range of cultural and political ideas. J. Wesley Brown's 2011 series Inversions, for example, is a sequence of self-described "inanimate animated GIFS" made from still photographs, presented online, that gradually shift through multiple frames and manifestations. While much of today's popular GIF culture focuses on quick, meme-y image bursts, Brown's are slowed down, compelling viewers to rethink how they experience and understand imagery -- both on screens and in physical form.