July 29, 2014

Of Present Identities

Holly Bass, Pristine, Photograph
Holly Bass, Pristine, Photograph

Last week, curator Jarvis DuBois shared in an interview that he creates exhibitions that explore identity. For REPRISE: 40 to the Fore, AAC Director of Exhibitions Karyn Miller collaborated with DuBois to remix past exhibition Of the Black Experience, which brought together several artists exploring the theme of identity. Of Present Bodies pulls together artist Michael Platt from the original 1983 exhibition and artists Sondra Perry, Holly Bass, and Sheldon Scott for another conversation on identity. Photography and performance act as the connecting threads to focus the discussion.

Sheldon Scott, Sweet Boy, Photograph
Sheldon Scott, Sweet Boy, Photograph

Sheldon Scott’s and Holly Bass’s work is the first part of the exhibition you will see as you enter AAC. Bass presents photography from her performance Pristine. A “white, pretty and petite” assistant is sorting through mounds of rocks in search of “whitest, most pristine” rock while Bass eats lunch and paints her nails. The performance reverses the normal hierarchies of labor, race, and class to bring focus to black identity.

Scott, too, investigates sexuality and race in his exploration of identity. Scott is multi-disciplinary artist and storyteller. His performance-based installation Level With Me challenges ideals of exceptionalism in the black male form and function, which are themes seen throughout his work. See his sculpture, ephemera, and studio photography opposite Bass’s photography.

Michael Platt, Country Girl
Michael Platt, Country Girl

The exhibition continues in the Tiffany Gallery with artists Michael Platt and Sondra Perry. Perry presents two works, a black and white video of a woman tumultuously moving about a room, and a series of photographs of a seated figure draped in a white sheet, making a variety of poses with her uncovered hands. She uses the female form to investigate issues of gender, race, the black female body, and history.

Platt is a returning artist from the 1983 exhibition. Using layered images of landscapes, natural and built environments, and the body, Platt features marginalized figures in history to explore the expression of rites, rituals, and our human condition. He presents a new series of prints featuring both male and female subjects.


Save the date! Saturday, August 23, from 1 pm to 4 pm we will host a gallery talk featuring the artists and curators for Of Present Bodies and InterActivism. Come to hear from the artists and curators, stay to mingle with them over wine and cheese.

written by AAC Summer Intern Shelley O’Conor

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