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THE ART OF FREEDOM

THE ART OF FREEDOM

THE ART OF FREEDOM

CONTENTS 1 Art & Freedom by Edgar Evalt Sleinis 2 “It Came from Studio Floor” Artist Interview - Trenton Doyle Hancock 3 “Against Passive Seeing” Artist Interview - Shaun Leonardo

FEATURED ARTISTS 1 Eli Sudbrack 2 Shahzia Sikander 3 Trenton Doyle Hancock 4 Guan Xiao 5 Shaun Leonardo 6 Abigail DeVille

ART AND FREEDOM

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Art and Freedom

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nless art delivers values that life without art cannot, it is pointless. The value issues here transcend the spe-cific aesthetic values that attach to individual artworks. Certainly a natural view is that the value of art as a whole reduces to the sum of the values of its individual artworks. But this natural view embodies problematic assumptions about the atomistic nature of value in art that overlook questions about the value of art as a whole. To my mind, exclusive focus on value pertaining specifically to individual artworks misses important value issues. Whether art as a whole promotes values that cannot be reduced to the sum of the values of individual artworks certainly merits further consideration. My claim is that art definitely generates values that cannot be reduced to the sum of the values of individual artworks and that these values are intrinsic to the art enterprise and are not mere byproducts. Doubtless the two kinds of value are closely linked, but the value issues are not identical. Let me proceed directly to the argument The art enterprise inherently promotes freedom. The role of freedom also emerges in theorizing about art and even casts liight on the rise and fall of theories of art. To begin my case, let me review some fundamentals. Art produces objects primarily for conscious awareness. But why art creates objects primarily for conscious awareness when the world is already full of potential objects of conscious awareness is not immediately evident. What, more specifically, is the role of objects created by art, and why cannot that role be met adequately by objects the world already contains? In short, what can art furnish that reality cannot? The broad solution is that art furnishes recast presentations of the outer world to conscious awareness, it furnishes recast presentations of

the inner world to conscious awareness, and it also furnishes novel, world-independent presentations to conscious awareness. The challenge is to explain more fully the point of such presentations. The simple answer is that art creates objects that command, sustain, and reward contemplation. For this, artworks need inherent drawing power, but how such drawing power is possible is neither simple nor obvious. I argue that freedom is crucial here and that the cultivation of inwardness is inseparable from it.   The point of art is perplexing in ways that the point of science or morality is not. Eliminate science or morality, and negative consequences ensue beyond the sheer absence of science and the sheer absence of morality. With one, we lose the technological fruits of science; with the other, we face the loss of a livable civil society. Eliminate art, and it is unclear that any negative consequences ensue beyond the sheer absence of art itself. The puzzle is increased by the fact that the first and long dominant theory of art - the representation or imitation theory in its original form - makes art appear largely pointless. Even those who accept the importance of art struggle to articulate what that importance consists in. Art proliferates conflicting theories, and this partly drives postmodern skepticism about the viability of comprehensive theories of art. As one noteworthy conflict, according to Kant, art requires detached and disinterested contemplation; according to Nietzsche, art requires a rapturous personal engagement. For Kant, art stands apart from life; for Nietzsche, art is the great stimulus to life. It is hardly surprising that such apparent irreconcilability should induce pessimism about prospects for an adequate comprehensive theory. To my mind, both Kant

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and Nietzsche have points that merit respect. Theory is culpable in prematurely abandoning the quest for a single account that accommodates both points. My aim is to articulate a theory that incorporates such seemingly distinct viewpoints. Art’s unique relationship to freedom compared with science and morality is worth noting. Morality is normative in relation to action. Morality cannot permit unconstrained killing, hurting, depriving, and deceiving. Furthermore, morality must also partly restrict feelings. Feelings that lead to unconstrained killing, hurting, depriving, and deceiving must be curbed, as must feelings of enjoyment in such occurrences. Morality exists to limit freedom of action and feeling. Morality insists on specific routines of action and interaction. Morality presupposes the freedom to conform to moral rules, but it is not the function of morality to promote freedom. The aim is to propound a single set of rules to which all must conform. It is not the function of morality to create new objects for conscious awareness with power to command, sustain, and reward con-

templation. Nor is it the function of morality to foster and enlarge individuals’ inner lives. Indeed, if we accept Aristotle’s view, moral behavior should become habitual and automatic, and this would contract rather than expand inner life. To be sure, philosophers such as Kant insist on an inner element the appropriate intention, as vital to moral action, but beyond this minimum there is no pressure to enlarge inner life.” Science is normative in relation to belief. It deems many beliefs as categorically unacceptable and others as merely undeserving of credence. Science cannot permit totally unconstrained belief, nor can it be totally flexible about methods of attaining beliefs. To be sure, science may advocate freedom instrumentally to reach better theories, but each improvement in theory further limits belief by abandoning more beliefs as no longer scientifically tenable. The rejection of certain beliefs is essential to science. It exists to limit freedom of belief. The aim is to generate a single set of beliefs that all must embrace. Nor is it the function of science to create new objects for con-

THE ART ENTERPRISE INHERENTLY PROMOTES FREEDOM. 3

Art and Freedom

scious awareness with power to command, sustain, and reward contemplation. Although science may produce these as side effects, they are not its principal aims, and the best scientific theories could exist without them. Nor is it the function of science to cultivate the inner lives of its devotees. Morality strives for a single set of mandatory rules; science strives for a single set of mandatory beliefs; neither strives to promote values beyond this. The Fundamental Features of Art The three core features of the art enterprise are that it fosters freedom, it creates objects that command, sustain, and reward more than that the action is not instrumental or one I usually do. In the nontrivial sense of freeing, freeing entails overcoming resistance or inertia or loosening fixed patterns. The claim here is precisely that an underlying function of art is to overcome such resistance. Art is not simply an alternative activity; it is an activity that, at least partly, goes against the grain of previous patterns of activity. Art frees, and in doing so, it changes us. Art is essentially formative; it develops

Abigail Deville, Sarcophagus Blue. 2017

inwardness and independence. Art is not significant for a self fully preformed independently of art; art is significant for a self that art itself continuously creates. My underlying claim is that the habitual and routine modesof perceiving, thinking, feeling, and acting that are necessary to sustain life or have simply become common contain an inertia that can be modified only with effort. Art is the modifier. Art itself induces a separation from the commonplace and practical. The immediate objection is that to engage in art we certainly must be freed from the routine and practical, but we have art after we are freed from the routine and practical, and it is not the function of art to do the freeing. In short, art is a nonpractical activity that already presupposes freeing from the routine and practical. I argue that art has a

double aspect: Art must free us from the mundane and simultaneously furnish fulfilling activities beyond the routine and practical. Art both liberates and supplies significant new objects of focus. These two aspects are inseparable. The process of freeing partly creates the possibility of significant new objects of focus with new intensities, and the attracting power of the created objects at least partly drives the freeing. Insofar as there is such a thing as an aesthetic attitude, the contemplation of art creates it, and it is not a prerequisite for such contemplation. Before defending these claims directly, let me comment on what a good theory of art must accomplish. First, an adequate theory ought to explain why there are the arts that there are. Focusing on central cases, why is there visual art, music, lit-

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Mary-Am, a permanent public art fountain, Courtesy of Shahzia Sikander

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Art and Freedom

erature, and dance? Here neither traditional theories such as the representation theory nor contemporary theories such as the institutional or historical theory offer any plausible explanation.10 The diversity of the arts is a puzzle begging explana-tion. Second, an adequate theory ought to explain why the now-rejected traditional theories of art had the strong appeal that they had. Again, neither the traditional theories themselves nor contemporary theories offer any plausible explanation. My proposal has definite explanatory advantages in these areas. The principal defense of my claims occurs in my reassessment of both the major traditional and contemporary theories of art, but I proceed immediately to outline the implica-tions of my thesis for the major arts. VISUAL ART Visual artworks are material objects to which the thoughts, feelings, and actions possible and appropriate to actual nonart objects or real people are either impossible or inappropriate.” We cannot ride purely visual representations of horses; we can sit on sculptures of horses, but ride them we cannot. It is as unrewarding to eat visual representations of fruit as it is to fish in visual representations of lakes. Visual artworks, when apprehended as visual representations, sever the awareness from cognitive, emotional, and behavioral possibilities latent in the awareness of the represented objects themselves when perceived directly. Where visual artworks are purely abstract, the divorce from normal thoughts, feelings, and actions is even more evident. Furthermore, even in the most expressive visual artwork, whatever emotions we experience are not properly directed at the artwork itself.” In general, the internal impulses generated

by visual presentations are barred from discharge by the special status of such presentations, and this grounds the potential for a heightened intensity absent in normal perception. The very freeing from routine action grounds the possibility for an intensity of experience beyond the ordinary. Visual art creates impulses that cannot find expression in action and metamorphose to be experienced as charged aspects of the visual presentation itself. Visual artworks exist apart from the chaotic flux of daily life, and this very separation grounds their potential to free, to intensify experience, and to enlarge inner life. MUSIC Musical artworks are sound complexes, 15 often generating emotion-like states, to which the behavior possible and appropriate to nonart sounds and emotions is either impossible or inappropriate.“* Take the funeral march from Beethoven’s Third Symphony. Listening to it does not require donning somber clothes and heading for a cemetery. Take the chorus of the Hebrew slaves, Va, pensiero, from Verdi’s Nabucco. It may generate feelings of sympathy for the oppressed there, but the artistic presentation lacks actual oppressed people to aid or rescue as appropriate expressions of such emotions. Musical presentations, when apprehended as expressive musical presentations, sever the awareness from behavioral possibilities latent in the awareness of emotions when experienced in life. In actual life, emotions are there to spur action; in music, emotions are there with nowhere to go. This severing of connection between musical presentation and action at least partly grounds the special

intensity of music. It also furnishes a comtion and response. When emotive content increases, as it often does in poetry, felt intensity also increases. The content of literature is mediated cognitively through language, and although this liberates literary works from the limitations of the senses and opens extensive new possibilities, this occurs at the expense of the immediacy and the vibrancy that the senses furnish. Drama combines literature with visual art and, in opera, with music. My central thesis conflicts with Aristotle, who maintains that the contemplation of tragedies purges spectators of fear and pity.” Surely this is improbable, for although fear and pity may well be aroused, no means exist for their discharge in such circumstances. Here Nietzsche, who maintains that such contemplation is likely to make spectators more fearful and pitying, is arguably closer to the mark.18 Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther, in which the central character commits suicide out of unrequited love, reputedly stimulated a spate of similar suicides. Rather than purging its contemplators of morbid feelings, the literary representation intensified them and led to some suicides that would not have occurred without the literary exposure. DANCE   The classical narrative ballets such as Swan Lake contain literary and musical elements that have already been considered, but if we disregard such borrowings and focus on what is unique to dance, then clearly bodily movement and sequences of bodily movement are central. However, not just any bodily movement suffices; for that we need only enter a crowded street for observation or participation. The bodily movements of dance are not ordinary, everyday movements. Dance frees the body from its

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Abigail DeVille, The New Migration: Anacostia, Southeast DC, September 6, 2014.

normal patterns of movement.   Freedom from the normal and everyday is perhaps more striking in dance than in any other art form, and this doubtless moved Nietzsche at times to regard dance as the highest art form. Dance increases bodily awareness in both dancer and spectator. Feeling or seeing what bodies can do enlarges our conception of bodies, even when our own bodies cannot match what we see. In summary, visual art severs the normal connection between seeing and action, music severs the normal connection between hearing and action, literature severs the normal connection between thinking and action, and dance undermines common and habitual patterns of physical move-

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ment. The arts free us from routine and habitual modes of perceiving, thinking, feeling, and acting in multiple ways. Human freedom is as complex as humans themselves are, and multifarious resources are needed for its proper cultivation. The different arts are there at least partly because of their differential contribution to human freedom and to the rewards that are associated with it. Each art form frees us from different routine and habitual responses. Each art form furnishes its own intensified experiences. Clearly this implies that they are not mutually reducible. Visual art cannot be reduced to music, music cannot be reduced to visual art, and neither can be reduced to literature. Nor can any of them be reduced to dance. They simply have different

Art and Freedom

Trenton Doyle Hancock and Frank Oz at MASS MoCA

and complementary potentials to liberate and reward. Possibly more sensual types are attracted by visual art, more emotional types by music, more intellectual types by literature, and more physical types by dance. If so, they may be attracted to their favorite art partly because they are freed from the domination of the sensual, the emotional, the intellectual, and the physical, and that such attraction is no mere reflection of their enslavement. An important corollary of the basic thesis is that the very possibility of art depends on the prior existence of a world and life of nonart. Art is art at least partly because it differs from an antecedent world and life of nonart. Beings for whom art is not a liberation from and an addition to an art-independent world could not experience in art the intensity or novelty that we do. One factor that makes art valuable is the existence of a contrasting nonart world from which we are partly freed by art. Paintings could not conceivably have the value that they have if there were no world outside paintings. Music could not conceivably have the value that it has if there were no sounds other than music or if there were no emotions experienced outside music. Literature could not conceivably have the value that it has if there were no life outside literature. Dance could not conceivably have the value that it has if there were no other human movements beside it. If these points are sound, then clearly all value in the arts cannot be reduced to the intrinsic aesthetic values of individual artworks; their value must at least partly depend on the broader context in which they are embedded. To be sure, artworks must command, sustain, and reward contemplation. If artworks lack intrinsic drawing power, then they lack power to dislodge us from routine and habitual ways of perceiving, thinking, feeling, and acting. Unless the presence of an artwork in conscious awareness

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furnishes rewards to contemplators, its destiny is oblivion. Some artworks attract immediately; others attract only after extended exposure to other artworks. But artworks are pointless if they lack the capacity to command, sustain, and reward contemplation in pleasure derivable from them. This is an interesting suggestion, but it is hard to see art furnishing important values if this were the whole story. However, Aristotle had further points. In discussing drama, Aristotle argued that certain departures from reality are acceptable if the internal coherence of the drama demands them.”* This introduces the idea that deviations from reality are permitted on aesthetic grounds and ensures the production of objects that cannot be encountered in reality directly. This furnishes another possibility of deriving experiences from artworks that cannot be derived from the contemplation of reality. I consider this point directly in due course. Take Schopenhauer as another example. His views on tragedy imply commitment to the representation theory. For him,

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drama is the best reflection of human existence, and tragedy is its highest form.’5 Tragedy truly reveals the appalling nature of human existence in which suffering predominates, and frustration, defeat, disappointment, and despair are the iron rule. The great merit of tragedy - and this flows from its accurate portrayal of life – is that it turns us away from life and thus spares us some of its suffering. Clearly, in this view it is better to contemplate the artistic representation than participate in the reality it represents. This contrasts neatly with Plato. For Plato, it is better to contemplate reality rather than its artistic representation. For Schopenhauer, it is better to contemplate the artistic representation rather than the reality. There are further noteworthy contrasts. Schopenhauer also had a two-tiered view of reality, but it is quite different from Plato’s. 16 For Schopenhauer, reality consists of the noumenal and the phenomenal. The phenomenal is the aspect of reality accessible to direct awareness; it is what we perceive and conceptualize.    The noumenal is the more fun-

Art and Freedom

damental aspect of reality and is normally inaccessible to direct awareness; it cannot be perceived or conceptualized. A key difference between Plato and Schopenhauer is that whereas for Plato, both the forms and ordinary things are accessible to us, for Schopenhauer, only ordinary things – the phenomenal world – are readily knowable; the noumenal world, reality as it is in itself, is not readily knowable, although he thinks that we can glean enough about it to call it will. Furthermore, the phenomenal world is an expression or manifestation of the noumenal world. Surprisingly, Schopenhauer thinks that music can reflect the noumenal world.” He is dismissive of “pictorial” music, which seeks to represent or imitate aspects of the phenomenal world. 18 But genuine music is a direct reflection of ultimate reality. This appears to rescue music from the triviality that threatens art in Plato’s view. The contemplation of music acquaints us with a reflection of reality, but unlike the situation for Plato, it acquaints us with a reflection of the ultimate

Courtesy of Shahzia Sikander

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“abstracto viajero andinos fetichizados”, 2017, multi-media installation, alpaca wool woven rugs, metal poles, motor, wallpaper, lacquered wooden staircases, floor vinyl, soundtrack, MATE, Lima, Peru

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Art and Freedom

and most important component of reality, the will, and not merely with a reflection of some phenomenal manifestation of the will. The positive value of music seems easier to accept in this view than the positive value of painting is in Plato’s. In Schopenhauer’s view, genuine music is not just a copy of a copy.   Nevertheless, awkward questions persist. In this view, is not music just a reflection or representation of the noumenal world? To be acquainted directly with the noumenal world rather than with a reflection or representation of it in music surely would be better. Obviously, if no one can be directly acquainted with the noumenal world, then certainly composers cannot be acquainted with it, and no one can know whether music reflects the ultimate reality. However, if composers are directly acquainted with the noumenal world, then surely it is better for us also to be acquainted with ultimate reality directly and not through some reflection of it in music. Schopenhauer’s approach initially looks more promising than Plato’s, but eventually the value of art again suffers serious challenge. Naturally, defenses are possible. One might argue that composers are special beings who directly apprehend ultimate reality, which ordinary mortals cannot do. So contemplating reality directly is optimal for composers, but the best we can do is listen to their music. I will not explore whether this defense is sustainable in Schopenhauer’s philosophy, but note that the representation theory repeatedly battles to justify the value of art. For Plato, the point of contemplating artworks appears to be the knowledge derivable from such contemplation, and evidently other important thinkers share this assumption. This assumption is questionable. If we contemplate paintings of horses, is this to gain knowledge of horses? If we contemplate drawings of flowers, is this to gain knowledge of flowers? The suggestion seems odd, and

Plato’s assumption warrants challenge. What then is the value of contemplating a copy or imitation or representation rather than the original? The issue need not be construed in terms of knowledge. The problem is that whatever the value is in contemplating something, seemingly more of that value flows from contemplating the original rather than from contemplating copies, imitations, or representations. Even if we focus on the intensity, richness, and completeness of experience, rather than knowledge, seemingly reality furnishes these more fully than any mere representation or copy or imitation. Let me call this the fundamental justification problem for the representation theory. The representation theory must explain why we should contemplate artworks rather than directly contemplating what they depict. Why contemplate paintings of beautiful bodies when you can contemplate beautiful bodies? Why contemplate sculptures of horses when you can contemplate horses? Why witness plays about domestic life when you can live it and directly observe others living it? I focus on this issue henceforth. To begin, the term representation theory embraces a cluster of theories in which the implications vary from case to case. A systematic ordering of representation theories is necessary for progress here, and I will present just such an ordering in which I distinguish four versions of the representation theory.   Let me start with the simplest and clearest version of the representation theory. The Pure Representation Theory, the function of art is to represent, copy, imitate, reveal, or describe some segment of reality as accurately and completely as possible. The theory embodies a strong criterion of aesthetic merit. The more an artwork resembles the real thing - indeed, the more it can be mistaken for the real thing - the better it is as an artwork. Anything added, any-

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Laquan McDonald. Charcoal on paper, 2016. Courtesy of Richard Betts.

thing deleted, anything altered is a defect.20 The theory is primarily applicable to visual art and is readily applicable to literature and drama. Its application to music is problematic but not impossible. I initially focus on its application to visual art, but with due caution the observations can be generalized. The theory has had distinguished adherents. Giorgio Vasari in Lives of the Artists tells a story about Giotto. During the absence of Giotto’s master, Cimabue, Giotto painted a fly on the nose of a figure in one of Cimabue’s paintings. On returning, Cimabue tried several times to brush the fly off the nose of the figure in his painting before realizing that the fly was not real.     The story is told partly to show that Giotto had a sense of humor but also partly to show that Giotto must have been a great artist to trick the expert eye of his master. The

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implicit ideal is to make a painting indistinguishable from the reality it represents. Vasari tells the story of another artist who painted a picture of a horse so realistically that not only were humans deceived but even horses were deceived. One is among the artistic elite if one can deceive humans about horses, but one is truly exceptional if one can deceive horses about horses. In describing a painting by Titian, Areno relates, “And the lamb he bears in his arms is so lifelike that it actually drew a bleat from a passing ewe.”   These stories neatly illustrate the ideals of the pure representation theory. During the reign of the theory, the formulation is regularly repeated that paintings should reveal no more and no less than a mirror reveals. Even Leonardo uses this formulation. The theory generates questions that are otherwise barely intelligible. For

Art and Freedom

example, which is the highest art form? Again Vasari tells a relevant story. The painter Giorgione had a dispute with some sculptors.   The sculptors argued sculpture is the superior art form because it permits more accurate and realistic representations than painting. In particular, painting shows only how things look from a single point of view, whereas sculpture shows how things look from any point of view. In response, Giorgione painted a picture of a man with his back to the viewer but facing a stream with the reflection of his front in the water.     To one side, there is shining armor, which reflects one of his profiles, and on the other side there is a mirror, which reflects the other profile. In Some things are less accessible than others. Some things are more beautiful or more rewarding to contemplate than others. With exact representa-

tion, we have enhanced access to such beauties or rewards.   To see the real thing may necessitate excessive travel, there may be physical or human barriers, it may be too dangerous or too expensive, and so on. Pure representations furnish access to sights that are difficult or normally impossible to access. Thus, in the pure representation theory, although art fails to introduce any new beauty or new experience not otherwise obtainable, it greatly increases access to beauties and experiences that are already obtainable.   Mountains are not portable, but representations of mountains are. If visual contemplation of a mountain is rewarding, then an exact representation can deliver that rewarding experience wherever we go. The point applies equally to anything we might want to see. Greater portability and greater accessibility often go together, but are independent features. 

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Guan Xiao, Sunrise, 2015 (installation view, Hugo Boss Asia Art Award Group Exhibition of Shortlisted Artists, Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai, 2015)

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  A large statue or huge portrait may be more accessible than the person of whom it is a statue or portrait, yet both the statue and the portrait may be even less portable than the person. Although the greater portability of many representations compared with the corresponding realities cannot furnish new rewarding experiences, it can increase the proportion of rewarding experiences to nonrewarding experiences.   The beauty of youth inevitably fades. Exact representations of people in their youthful beauty furnish continued access to that beauty even when it is no longer directly observable in the world.29 Here is another answer to the question “Why contemplate representations rather than real things?”   With the passage of time the real thing might no longer be directly observable. Representations preserve beauties or sources of rewarding experiences when the originals have left this world. Again the greater permanence of representations cannot furnish new rewarding experiences, but it can preserve the sources of rewarding experiences and thereby increase the proportion of rewarding experiences to nonrewarding experiences. If only the most interesting, most rewarding, or most beautiful aspects of reality are reproduced in representations, then we can increase our exposure to what is valuable. Certainly no new values emerge, but art can furnish a digest of the best that reality offers.   If Aristotle is right, we take pleasure in representations just because they are representations. Typically, the better the representation is the more it furnishes this particular pleasure. This pleasure genuinely adds to human experience; we cannot have this pleasure without representations. But as I noted earlier, this is hardly an addition of decisive significance. If this were the only genuinely new value or new experience flowing

from art, would not amount to much.   Representations sever the ordinary or routine nexus between perception and action that obtains in life. Representational artworks free us from practical involvement and release us for unrestricted and concentrated contemplation of the artworks themselves. Simplification- The things represented can be simplified in varying degrees by leaving things out. Concentration- The things represented can be concentrated by packing more in than can naturally be found together in the world. Attenuation- The things represented can be attenuated by such means as diluting color and blurring shape. Accentuation- The things representedcan be accentuated with brighter colors and sharper shapes. Distortion- The things represented can undergo a change of proportions such as depicting the head as larger than the body. Change of scale: The things represented can undergo a uniform change of size while retaining their actual proportions. Each of these means signals intervention in and control of the character of the artwork by the artist. In augmented representations, traces of the artist’s genuine authentic mind in the artwork are unavoidably present.

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IT CAME FROM STUDIO FLOOR

TRENTON DOYLE HANCOCK

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ART21: Why do you use trash in your work? HANCOCK: I get a lot of inspiration from garbage that I find, whether it be tops that I pick up out of the bin at the laundromat or something that I saw on the side of the road and was so inspired that I had to stop the car and get it and put it in the trunk. There’s something about getting something that is free that is appealing to me, for one. But then, the things that people throw away—oftentimes they throw them away because they’re old. I see these objects that have this patina to them, that have this obvious history. It’s been loved and hated and loved again, and ultimately discarded. There are so many stories to be told within these objects. And oftentimes, once they’ve been thrown away and

you find them in the garbage, they’re pale imitations of what they once were. And it’s just, sometimes, very intriguing and exciting to see what these objects have become. And so, I set them up and then make up my own stories about them. ART21: When did you first start to use collage? HANCOCK: When I was an undergraduate, I worked for the school paper, making cartoons. And that was a great thing for me to go through because I had to make images quick. I had to come up with pretty much a story on the spot, maybe dealing with a story that was given to me, but from that I just used it as a jumping off point to make these stories. But the drawings usually ended up being flat. And there came a point

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Trenton Doyle Hancock in his Core Residency Program studio at the Glassell School of Art, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX, 2002. Production still from the Art in the Twenty-First Century Season 2 episode, Stories. © Art21, Inc. 2003.

Trenton Doyle Hancock. Painter and Loid Struggle for Soul Control, 2001. Mixed media on canvas; 103 × 119 inches. Collection of Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art, University of Texas, Austin, Texas. Courtesy of James Cohan Gallery, New York and Dunn and Brown Contemporary, Dallas.

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It Came From Studio Floor

where I just got kind of bored making these flat drawings, so I started to experiment with collage and building up the surfaces of these drawings, sometimes very subtly, where you wouldn’t really know that, you know, something had been collaged on unless you investigated a little further. And then it got to the point where I had learned how to do that, and I just wanted to put something on that was a little dumber, like something that you knew was collaged on. And eventually collage just became something that was part of the process. So, it went full circle, from something that was a pictorial space. These cartoons were all about good design: like, you knew what was happening, it was a quick read, and then you could go on. And then it went to something that was all about not being able to read it so fast. And now, it’s morphed into this thing

that is a combination of the abstract things that I was doing and those cartoons that I wanted to do, and the cartoonist or the comic book artist that I wanted to be when I was a kid. All these things are coming together to form this new thing for me. I’d say, ultimately, I wanted drawing to be a lot harder for myself. It just seemed too easy to make a drawing. I wanted to remove the immediacy out of it, out of the process. And I think majoring as a printmaker when I was an undergraduate helped me learn how to do that. It gave me patience. It helped me to see steps into the future in terms of what a drawing could be, or in terms of creating an image. And ultimately, it just led to a much richer kind of an image, something that you can read from top to bottom, from back to front. And so now, those types of issues are just a given when I think about my work.

Trenton Doyle Hancock in his Core Residency Program studio at the Glassell School of Art, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX, 2002. Production still from the Art in the Twenty-First Century Season 2 episode, Stories. © Art21, Inc. 2003.

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ART21: How does language factor into what you’re doing now? HANCOCK: One of the bodies of work that I’m working on at the present moment is work based on my studio floor. I have all these piles of scraps that are pretty much remains of paintings that I cut up or set aside for the moment. And I have piles and piles of these little colorful scraps. And some of them are made out of felt, some of them have paint on them, some of them are paper. And what I wanted to do was make something out of all of that, because a lot of it has been sitting around for about three years, and I hadn’t done anything with it. So, I wanted to make a body of work that dealt with the things that I’m finding on my studio floor. So, there was that. And I started to glue all those pieces onto big bands of felt of all different types of colors, so they ended up looking like these giant rugs. And furthering that theme of the studio floor, I took the words studio floor and made all these anagrams out of that, out of those words. And I came up with about, I don’t know, fifty different anagrams and all of those, (LAUGHS) all of them led back into the story somehow. It was very strange. Like, the word loid appears in that anagram. The word tofu. It was so weird that I was, like, “Oh my goodness! Well, this is the next step.” So, at the same time as I have

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these giant goofy kind of abstract things hanging on the wall, I’m going to also have these tight pencil drawings that have the characters in there. And the characters will be having dialogues with each other, and it’ll be like a storyline, but everything coming out of their mouth will be one of those anagrams. So, they’ll be talking to each other, but it’ll be in this, I don’t know, baby talk or something, because it’ll just be: “Tofu rule.” Or, “Tofu is drool.” Or things like that. ART21: How does this rug painting relate to the overall story of the Mounds? HANCOCK: What these are, I’ve come to realize, are dream flashes, which are extended color flashes from Mounds. It’s just bursts of hope, and that’s what the Mounds are telling us here. This kind of thing happens all the time throughout the storyline. Like, Mounds only communicate in bursts of color and symbols. So, I mean, this is just one of the many bursts of color and symbols that they’ve sent. I like to think that those paintings are how this Mound here, who has passed on, is communicating with me after he’s gone. So, he’s sending these visions of hope, saying that, “I’m gone but I’m not forgotten” and that you know things will be okay. So, in a way, it’s like God’s promise with the rainbow after the flood—that this kind of thing will never happen again.

It Came From Studio Floor

Trenton Doyle Hancock in his Core Residency Program studio at the Glassell School of Art, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX, 2002. Production still from the Art in the Twenty-First Century Season 2 episode, Stories. © Art21, Inc. 2003.

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Trenton Doyle Hancock in his Core Residency Program studio at the Glassell School of Art, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX, 2002. Production still from the Art in the Twenty-First Century Season 2 episode, Stories. © Art21, Inc. 2003.

ART21: What do you think the relationship is between the formal elements of your painting and the story you’re telling? HANCOCK: I think one of the ways that the story has evolved—I’d say, over the past five years, when I actually started doing a lot of collage and building up of surfaces and tearing down of surfaces—is that I started to realize that the content of the stories that I was interested in had a lot to do with something being broken down or built up or something having to be rescued. Things decaying. So, I started to search for materials that spoke to that same kind of sensibility.

23

It Came From Studio Floor

Trenton Doyle Hancock at James Cohan Gallery, New York, NY, 2002. Production still from the Art in the Twenty-First Century Season 2 episode, Stories, 2003. © Art21, Inc. 2003.

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AGAINST PASSIVE SEEING:

SHAUN LEONARDO 25

E

xploring issues of race and masculinity, Shaun Leonardo’s multimedia practice exposes and redresses the white supremacist power structures that oppress and violate Black and brown bodies. In visual and performance works alike, the artist foregoes the trauma porn that has long shaped such subjects, employing conflict resolution, dialogue, and empathy instead. Whether bringing together people with opposing views on gun control (Primitive Games, 2018), conducting self-defense workshops (I Can’t Breathe, 2014–17), or acting as lead educator for an artist-led program for court-involved youth (Recess, 2017–ongoing), his commitment to community activism and outreach has been widely acclaimed. The viewer as participant, willing or unwilling but always complicit, remains central to everything Leonardo does. His traveling exhibition “The Breath of Empty Space,” which features charcoal drawings that break down and reconfigure — conceptually and literally — widely disseminated images of police violence, for example, foregrounds the act of looking. Designed to get us to consider the media’s role in shaping how we think, react, and behave, the paradoxical power of such imagery — used to fuel the media’s ongoing spectacle of Black death, and last summer’s historic Black Lives Matter protests — is endemic to this process.   And so is its treachery, a fact that became particularly evident when the Cleveland Museum of Art, slated to host the exhibition last June, cancelled it in the aftermath of community objections. Rather than engage those concerned in a productive discussion with the artist (whose very mission is to create such conversations) around the work’s true intentions, the institution caved in to the pressure. When MASS MoCA stepped in to take the show, I sat down with Leonardo to talk about the

26

work and its thorny, powerful implications about systemic injustice.   Jane Ursula Harris: The title of your exhibition invokes Eric Garner’s last words, “I can’t breathe,” now a familiar rallying cry in the protest movement against police brutality. It’s also a quote from Friedrich Nietzsche’s Parable of the Madman (1882). What’s the relevance of the latter for you in this body of how do the two references interrelate?   Shaun Leonardo: Let me offer some words here from John Chaich, the independent curator of the exhibition: Responding to the formal and conceptual use of negative space in Shaun’s work, I recalled the Nietzsche passage, “Do we not feel the breath of empty space.” I could not help but also hear the last words of Eric Garner, “I can’t breathe,” which he uttered eleven times before his death, while in a chokehold applied by Officer Daniel Pantaleo.   I was reminded of scholar Stephen Kern’s description of a “positive negative space” where the “background itself is a positive element of equal importance with all others.” Kern directs us to the substance in the absence of visual information. The empty space in these drawings — heightened by blurring, reframing, and isolating visual information — is activated when viewers fill in the blanks, reframe details, and remix narratives on both personal experience and perceptions ingrained by media and cultural biases.   Its real resonance today, for me, lies in George Floyd’s utterance of “I can’t breathe” as we witnessed what felt like his execution — the life slowly leaving his body as he struggled underneath the knee of Officer Derek Chauvin. The continued relevance of that phrase is heart-wrenching, but reminds both me and the viewer that there is a long legacy to police violence, which extends well beyond this moment we are experiencing. One thing I hope this exhibition

27

Against Seeing Passive

Shaun Leonardo, Jack Johnson 2017

traces is the interconnection of these tragedies — the layers of systemic violence that all stem from how we, as Black and brown bodies, are seen and unseen. JUH: You began this body of work as a way to process the 2012 death of Trayvon Martin in “personal terms… outside the media noise” that continues to exploit the visual spectacle of Black death for sensational ends. How has your chosen medium of charcoal enabled you to do so? SL: Drawing affords a slow, contemplative grappling with the image for me, and, I would argue, the viewer. It’s in the deliberate, painstaking crafting of an image that we absorb the information differently — in ways that the moving image does not offer. It’s the very act of drawing that also gives me the time and space to make decisions — my application being additive in nature — training the viewer’s eye on information that

would otherwise be lost or omitted by our selective seeing. It’s the depth of drawing — the density of the charcoal and breath of space both literally and metaphorically carved into the image — that allows us to sit with the hurt, and where, I argue, our looking is turned into bearing witness. And to witness is to say to oneself that the image will not leave you. To witness dictates that you will seek healing through — not beyond — the struggle. To witness means to internalize in such a way that the very manner in which we look and act everyday is questioned. JUH: The sequential format you use breaks down headline images of police violence, particularly those repeatedly circulated by the media — Rodney King being beaten in the street, Eric Garner in a chokehold — into multiple viewpoints that reconstruct our relationship to them yet paradoxically refuse linear readings. Is this a way to counter the impact of mediated violence?

SL: Rather than “counter,” I would argue “question.” There is a direct correlation between the selection and dissemination of images by the media, the ways in which we receive those same images, and what is formed as a memory in our collective consciousness. The distraction and speed at which we are bombarded with a news cycle reduces these tragedies to mere headlines. The drawings allow me to work against this reduction and question the very manner in which we are complicit and complacent in our seeing.   In the Laquan McDonald work, for example, which consists of two drawings, we first see — in the haziness of dash cam footage — the dimly lit street lined with squad cars and the closest officer in aiming position. In the second, we see Laquan McDonald, hands at his side, alone in what could have been a corridor of stars. Read together, with the information of one scene separated into two frames, we perceive the distance at which he was deemed a threat. In

28

the Eric Garner series, we see the same video still replicated across six stacked drawings, each emphasizing different types of information. JUH: And this serves to slow down the viewer’s reception? SL: Correct. A viewer then spends time looking at the storefronts or treelined street — a space that was familiar to Mr. Garner but that becomes an arena of violence. We may consider why we never took the time, real time, to study the gesture of his hands, which he made in an attempt to pacify the confronting officers. Or question whether we ever truly examined the officers’ aggression and chokehold maneuver — the very first course of action undertaken once Eric Garner is deemed a threat. In the Rodney King drawing we see the iconic video still of his beating, but with a void where his body would be. JUH: How does that void function for you? SL: As a refusal to present his Black body in the way we have been ingrained by the media to see it… in its punished state. More often than not when we recollect this image, we only recall the two officers making contact with their kicks and batons. Is there any accident then, that to this day, in the headlines we will only read about the four officers charged and acquitted? JUH: And the use of dark mirrored tint in the work? SL: It forces the viewer to not only watch themselves watching, implicating our once passive seeing, but also explicitly call out the way in which, in our collective memory, we dismiss, or maybe forget, the fact that there were eleven officers at that scene — all of whom deemed Rodney King a

29

threat even as he lay on the ground near paralyzed. All of whom should have been held culpable. JUH: Are you also indicting our obsession with violence, even if we condemn the police brutality associated with these deaths? SL: Well, I believe the condemnation is short-lived, particularly amongst many white citizens. It’s in this slowed, deliberate looking these drawings offer that we are reminded that in these scenes of murder, these Black and brown citizens were rendered less than human well before shots were fired, a chokehold was placed, or a baton was swung. It’s in the information that I reconfigure — what was once watched with speed, commotion, and passivity — that we perceive the fear of the Black and brown body that police carry within their bodies and psyches, which then directly leads to our deaths. JUH: And the ultimate message then to your viewers is? SL: It’s in what we choose to selectively see and not see in the media images and footage that we become complicit in how each of these murders is swept away as a statistic, and also complacent in not addressing our own fears. JUH: Our unexamined fears of Black and brown bodies you mean? SL: Absolutely. And for Black and brown viewers there is another offering. Just as I required for myself when I stared into Trayvon’s eyes, we must have the time and peace to reckon with these images of death differently. In the quiet of bearing witness we are afforded the space to internalize these images even as they hurt us. I argue that to heal we must grapple with how the trauma is lodged in our bodies and psyches. These images will never just go away.

Against Seeing Passive

Shaun Leonardo, Silencing, 2018

30

Shaun Leonardo, The Eulogy, 2018

JUH: Your work has long explored the devastating impact of white supremacist patriarchy on Black and brown bodies, particularly notions of masculinity both projected and internalized. Can you talk more about how this body of work extends those concerns? SL: It’s as I said before. We Americans have only begun to analyze how our entrenched definitions of Black and brown masculinities manifests into the continued control, containment, and removal of our bodies. We spend so much time, for example, debating the protocol or standards of policing that we rarely assess the embedded fear officers carry that will always lead to our murders.   It’s in this exhibition, but also in my performance practice and the work that I conduct in the sphere of criminal justice, that I wish to approach this fear — both as it is imposed on our bodies, but also as it is internal-

31

ized from a young age, corrupting our sense of self. JUH: In the video documenting your eponymous performance The Eulogy, also on view, you recite the searing yet rueful speech given by the nameless Black narrator in Ralph Ellison’s The Invisible Man — another literary touchstone — at the funeral of his dear friend Brother Tod Clifton, murdered by a white police officer. It’s a pivotal moment in the protagonist’s psychic development, one that unites the personal and political. In your transposition of Clifton’s name, repeated again and again, with the names of those lost to police violence, you underscore the same struggle to create a legacy for Black men beyond that of violence and trauma. Do you see progress being made? SL: Thank you for that beautiful synopsis connecting my work to Ellison’s. Let me leave you with this: we exist in a moment of our history in which

Against Seeing Passive

the complexity of our experiences has been flattened… whether by the sensationalism of headlines or polarized nature of our arguments. Our positionality, or more importantly, our ability to stay in the tensions and contradictions of our lived experiences, is being erased by our incessant need to protect our worldviews. But that is not life. We must always work through the ugliness and maintain our presence. So I don’t spend time thinking of progress. I contemplate what is needed of me and for the people I care about. Remembering is one aspect of that need… never allowing these names and lives to be buried by history. Instead we breathe life into this history of violence and death, giving this past a meaning by how we act in the present. =

Shaun Leonardo, Self Portrait 2017

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ELI SUDBRACK 33

The collective assume vivid astro focus (avaf) was formed in New York City in 2001. Its principal members are Eli Sudbrack (born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1968) and Christophe Hamaide-Pierson (born in Paris, France in 1973). Avaf fuses drawing, sculpture, video, and performance into carnavalesque installations in which gender, politics, and cultural codes float freely. A study in visual adaptation and modification, avaf’s work recycles and transforms imagery from one project to the next—often in the form of densely patterned wallpapers and graphic signage. Personal expression and a lust for life feature prominently in projects simultaneously rooted in the politics of free speech, civil rights, and the dissolution of rigid classifications of class, gender, and national identity. In frequent collaborations with musicians, designers, dancers, and other artists, avaf challenges conventional assumptions about authorship and the role of the artist’s persona in contemporary society and the art world. Avaf has received awards from the Rema Hort Mann Foundation (2002) and the Public Art Fund (2007). Its work has appeared in major exhibitions at Centro De Arte Contemporaneo, Murcia (2010); the New Museum (2010); National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Oslo (2009); Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco (2009); São Paulo Bienal (2008); ENEL Contemporanea, Rome (2008); Museum of Modern Art, New York (2008); Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid (2007); Museum of Contemporary Art (MOT), Tokyo (2007); Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2007); Kunsthalle Wien Project Space, Vienna (2006); Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2005); Indianapolis Museum of Art (2005); Tate Liverpool (2005); the Public Art Fund (2004); and the Whitney Biennial (2004). Eli Sudbrack lives and works in New York City and São Paulo; Christophe Hamaide-Pierson lives and works in Paris.

34

Cyclops Mertrannie, 2015

35

“The tranny is for us a symbol of the contemporary world’s ultimate goddesses: demolition goddesses attempting to reconstruct their bodies in order to reach an often failed ideal. Goddesses of hyper-femininity, goddesses of imperfection, goddesses of faith in change, goddesses of demolition and destruction and reconstruction, a burst of sexual, body and identity freedom – the ultimate symbol of transformation and questioning of the status quo for avaf. We wanted to explore the usual discomfort with the trans image and attach absurdity and amusement to such a taboo imagery.”

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Skyler Mitchell, 2014

Game Art: Assume Vivid Astro Focus “Pac Man,” 2014

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Assume Vivid Astro Focus, 2014

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Sodomy is not a civil right, 2012

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Solo exhibitions at Casa Triângulo, São Paulo, Brazil

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SHAHZIA SIKANDER 41

Shahzia Sikander was born in 1969 in Lahore, Pakistan. Educated as an undergraduate at the National College of Arts in Lahore, she received her MFA in 1995 from the Rhode Island School of Design. Sikander specializes in Indian and Persian miniature painting, a traditional style that is both highly stylized and disciplined. While becoming an expert in this tecnique driven, often impersonal art form, she imbued it with a personal context and history, blending the Eastern focus on precision and methodology with a Western emphasis on creative, subjective expression. In doing so, Sikander transported miniature painting into the realm of contemporary art. Raised as a Muslim, Sikander is also interested in exploring both sides of the Hindu and Muslim “border,” often combining imagery from both—such as the Muslim veil and the Hindu multi-armed goddess—in a single painting. Sikander has written: “Such juxtaposing and mixing of Hindu and Muslim iconography is a parallel to the entanglement of histories of India and Pakistan.” Expanding the miniature painting to the wall, Sikander also creates murals and installations, using tissue-paper-like materials that allow for a more free-flowing style. In what she labeled performances, Sikander experimented with wearing a veil in public, something she never did before moving to the United States. Utilizing performance and various media and formats to investigate issues of border crossing, she seeks to subvert stereotypes of the East and, in particular, the Eastern Pakistani woman. Sikander has received many awards and honors for her work, including the honorary artist award from the Pakistan Ministry of Culture and National Council of the Arts. Sikander resides in New York and Texas.

42

Malala, 2018

43

Fatima Mernissi, 2018

44

The World is Yours, The World is Mine, 2014 45

Of Masks and Bull 2, 2017

46

Rizwan Ahmed, 2018

47

Angela Davis, 2018

48

Of Masks and Bull 1, 2017

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Renaissance, 1998

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TRENTON DOYLE HANCOCK 51

Trenton Doyle Hancock was born in 1974 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Raised in Paris, Texas, Hancock earned his BFA from Texas A&M University, Commerce, and his MFA from the Tyler School of Art at Temple University, Philadelphia. Hancock’s prints, drawings, and collaged-felt paintings work together to tell the story of the Mounds—a group of mythical creatures that are the tragic protagonists of the artist’s unfolding narrative. Each new work by Hancock is a contribution to the saga of the Mounds, portraying the birth, life, death, afterlife, and even dream states of these half-animal, half-plant creatures. Influenced by the history of painting, especially Abstract Expressionism, Hancock transforms traditionally formal decisions—such as the use of color, language, and pattern—into opportunities to create new characters, develop sub-plots, and convey symbolic meaning. Hancock’s paintings often rework Biblical stories that the artist learned as a child from his family and local church community. Balancing moral dilemmas with wit and a musical sense of language and color, Hancock’s works create a painterly space of psychological dimensions.Trenton Doyle Hancock was featured in the 2000 and 2002 Whitney Biennial exhibitions, one of the youngest artists in history to participate in this prestigious survey. His work has been the subject of one-person exhibitions at Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston; Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth; and Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami. The recipient of numerous awards, Hancock lives and works in Houston, where he was a 2002 Core Artist in Residence at the Glassell School of Art of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

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Imported but Beautiful, 2010

For the Bucket, 2010

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Becoming the Toymaker, 2018

54

Fix (portfolio), 2006-08

55

Plate with Fur Pouch, 2019

Fix (portfolio), 2006-08

56

Wow That’s Mean I, 2008

57

Bone Throne, 2006

58

I See Things, 2008

59

TB (Torpedoboy) Concept, 2006

Torpedoboy Fights Aliens, 1984

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ABIGAIL DEVILLE 61

Abigail DeVille was born in 1981 in New York, where she lives and works. Maintaining a long-standing interest in marginalized people and places, DeVille creates site-specific immersive installations designed to bring attention to these forgotten stories, such as with the sculpture she built on the site of a former African American burial ground in Harlem. DeVille often works with objects and materials sourced from the area surrounding the exhibition site, and her theatrical aesthetic embodies the phrase, “One person’s trash is another person’s treasure.” Though collected objects are essential to her installations, DeVille’s priority is the stories her installations can tell. DeVille’s family roots in New York go back at least two generations; her interest in the city, and her work about it, is both personal and political. Abigail DeVille’s work has been exhibited at Punta Della Dogana Venice), Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (St Louis), Institute of Contemporary Art (Los Angeles), The Studio Museum in Harlem (New York), the Pinchuk Art Centre (Kiev), New Museum (New York), Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam). DeVille has designed sets for theatrical productions — at venues such as the Stratford Festival, directed by Peter Sellers, Harlem Stage, La Mama, JACK, and Joe’s Pub directed by Charlotte Brathwaite. She has received honors fellow at The Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard, Creative Capital grantee, received a OBIE Award for design, and nomiated for The Future Generation Art Prize in 55th Biennale di Venezia. She was in residence at the American Academy in Rome in 2017-2018.

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Chaos or Community, 2017

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Chaos or Community, 2017

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Real Hip Hop, 2006

65

Oil & Money, 2010

66

Mirror, Mirror…, 2011

67

New York at Dawn, 2010

68

Double Invisibility & Harlem Flag, 2014

69

Hooverville Torqued Ellipse, 2012

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SHAUN LEONARDO 71

Shaun Leonardo’s multidisciplinary work negotiates societal expectations of manhood, namely definitions surrounding black and brown masculinities, along with its notions of achievement, collective identity, and experience of failure. His performance practice, anchored by his work in Assembly—a diversion program for court-involved youth at the Brooklyn-based, non-profit Recess—is participatory and invested in a process of embodiment. Leonardo is a Brooklyn-based artist from Queens, New York City. He received his MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute, is a recipient of support from Creative Capital, Guggenheim Social Practice, Art for Justice and A Blade of Grass, and was recently profiled in the New York Times. His work has been featured at The Guggenheim Museum, the High Line, and New Museum, with a solo exhibition, The Breath of Empty Space, currently at MASS MoCA, then traveling to The Bronx Museum in 2021. Shaun Leonardo’s series “I Can’t Breathe” began in 2015. The work came out of Leonardo’s response to the death of Eric Garner and the non-indictment of the New York City Police Department officer responsible for his death. In Leonardo’s 2008 installation and performance piece, Bull in the Ring, he and 10 semi-pro football players performed the Bull in the Ring training routine. A training routine that was banned from American football on the high school and collegiate levels. Leonardo had been practicing this training routing from 12 years old. Through the Bull in the Ring performance Leonardo explores the pressures young men have to face, to conform, and to prove their toughness.

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Freddy, 2019

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Trayvon, 2014

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Attica, 2018

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Laquan McDonald, 2016

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Sean, 2014 77

Stephon Clark, 2018

78

Tamir Rice, 2016

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Laquan McDonald, 2016

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GUAN XIAO 81

Guan Xiao (b. 1983) lives and works in Beijing. The question of the individual is a central subject matter in Guan Xiao’s art, particularly the challenges of how one should, not only navigate, but harness the logic of time and speed and influx of technology while changing understandings of materiality and the burden of history. The complex and vivid aesthetic of her works in various media, including sculpture and video, could be considered as deliberations on these conditions, where instant knowledge about the world can provide a myriad of inspirations and influences. Looking to represent the artist’s own liminal space as being locally rooted and globally connected, Guan Xiao’s highly experimental work functions as an abstraction, formed by synthesizing numerous reference across time and geographies. Guan Xiao graduated from the Communication University of China and has exhibited internationally. Her work has been featured at Skulpturpark Köln (2020); Antenna Space, Shanghai (solo; 2020); Kunstmuseum St. Gallen (2020); Bonner Kunstverein (solo; 2019); Honolulu Biennial (2019); Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis (solo; 2019); Migros Museum, Zürich (2019); Kunsthalle Winterthur (solo; 2018); High Line, New York (2017); the 57th Venice Biennale, Venice (2017); Julia Stoschek Collection, Berlin (2017); M HKA Museum of Contemporary Art, Antwerp (2017); 9th Berlin Biennale, Berlin (2016); Jeu de Paume, Paris (solo; 2016); the K11 Art Foundation, Shanghai (solo; 2016); ICA, London (solo; 2016); ZKM, Karlsruhe (2016); Zabludowicz Collection, London (2016); Shortlist for Hugo Boss Asia Art Award at Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai (2015); the 13th Biennale de Lyon: La vie modern, Lyon (2015); Her work is in the collections of Boros Collection, Berlin; Daimler Collection, Stuttgart; Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin; Julia Stoschek Collection, Düsseldorf; Rubell Family Collection, Miami; Tiroche DeLeon Collection, Tel Aviv among others.

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Lulubird slowly dipped her tongue into the ice cream, waited until it started buzzing., 2020

83

Pond, 2019

84

Callimico, 2017

85

Tulip Model, 2019

86

Gathering, 2019

87

Flying Fox, 2018

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Bamboo, 2017

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Enjoyable relationship, 2017

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Art and Freedom

SELECTED WORKS 2005

2010

Trenton Doyle Hancock in his Core

Trenton Doyle Hancock,

Residency Program studio at the Glassell School of Art, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX, 2002. Production still from the Art in the Twenty-First Century Season 2 epi-

Eli Sudbrack, Assume Vivid Astro Focus, 2014

For the Bucket, 2010

Eli Subrack, Game Art: Assume Vivid Astro Focus

Trenton Doyle Hancock,

“Pac Man,” 2014

Imported but Beautiful, 2010 Eli Subrack,

sode, Stories. © Art21, Inc. 2003.

Abigail DeVille,

2006

Abigail DeVille,

Skyler Mitchell, 2014

Oil & Money, 2010 Shaun Leonardo,

Trenton Doyle Hancock,

Trayvon, 2014

New York at Dawn, 2010 Shaun Leonardo,

Fix (portfolio), 2006-08

2011

Sean, 2014

Trenton Doyle Hancock, TB

Abigail DeVille,

2015

(Torpedoboy) Concept, 2006

Mirror, Mirror…, 2011 Guan Xiao, Sunrise, 2015 (installation view, Hugo Boss Asia Art

Trenton Doyle Hancock, Bone Throne, 2006 Abigail DeVille, Real Hip Hop, 2006 2007 Eli Subrack, Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid (2007) Museum of Contemporary Art

Award Group Exhibition of Shortlist2012

ed Artists, Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai, 2015)

Abigail DeVille, Hooverville Torqued Ellipse, 2012

Eli Sudbrack, Cyclops Mertrannie, 2015

Eli Sudbrack,

2016

Sodomy is not a civil right, 2012 Shaun Leonardo,

(MOT), Tokyo (2007)

2014

Museum of Contemporary Art, Chi-

Shahzia Sikander, The World is

Laquan McDonald. Charcoal on paper, 2016. Courtesy of Richard Betts.

cago (2007)

Yours, The World is Mine, 2014

2008

Abigail DeVille, The New Migration: Anacostia,

Shaun Leonardo,

Trenton Doyle Hancock,

Southeast DC, September 6,

Tamir Rice, 2016

2, 2016

I See Things, 2008

2014.

Trenton Doyle Hancock,

Abigail Deville, Double Invisibility

Wow That’s Mean I, 2008

Shaun Leonardo, Laquan McDonald

2017 & Harlem Flag, 2014

Abigail Deville, Sarcophagus Blue.

92

“abstracto viajero andinos fetichiza-

Trenton Doyle Hancock,

dos”, 2017, multi-media installation,

Plate with Fur Pouch, 2019

alpaca wool woven rugs, metal poles, motor, wallpaper, lacquered

Guan Xiao,

wooden staircases, floor vinyl,

Pond, 2019

soundtrack, MATE, Lima, Peru Guan Xiao, Shahzia Sikander,

Tulip Model, 2019

Of Masks and Bull 2, 2017 2020 Abigail DeVille, Chaos or Community, 2017

Guan Xiao, Skulpturpark Köln (2020)

Guan Xiao, Callimico, 2017

Guan Xiao, Antenna Space, Shanghai (solo;

Guan Xiao,

2020)

Bamboo, 2017 Guan Xiao, Kunstmuseum St. Gallen (2020) 2018 Guan Xiao, Shahzia Sikander,

Lulubird slowly her tongue into the

Malala, 2018

ice cream, waited until it started buzzing., 2020

Trenton Doyle Hancock, Becoming the Toymaker, 2018 Shaun Leonardo, Attica, 2018 Shaun Leonardo, Stephon Clark, 2018 Guan Xiao, Flying Fox, 2018 Shahzia Sikander, Rizwan Ahmed, 2018 Shahzia Sikander, Angela Davis, 2018 2019

93

Art and Freedom

94