Conjunctions and Disjunctions

Black Ground
Cali, Colombia
2022

Conjunctions and Disjunctions is a curatorial experiment that tests the boundaries of dialogue when it is mediated by travel and the art object. It brings together prints, video, and sculptures created by a group of artists that at one point or another lived in Richmond Virginia, a mythic location in the U.S. South also known as one of the epicenters of the slave trade. A constraint for this exhibition was for the artworks to fit into a suitcase, be unpacked and exhibited in Cali, Colombia, home to the second largest population of Black people in Latin America. This methodological precondition conjures up the business of colonialism disguised as cultural exchange. However, the aim of this exhibit is not a grandiose gesture. Instead, it examines what remains after translation (necessarily) fails.

The artists in this exhibit are all Afrodiasporic subjects and in many cases the politics of identity and its relationship to location emerge as central subjects in their work. Bryan Castro, Kyrae Dawaun, Lukaza Branfman-Verissimo and Malcolm Peacock use text, with different grammars and tonalities, as a medium to incubate connections and as a way to manage the friction of failed attempts to generate shared meaning. Kelley-Ann Lindo’s animated video uses persecuted language to picture metaphors of floods that flood her memory of Jamaica. In their video, Deya Guy-Vasson uses questions as a mechanism to assess the capacity of a community to foster collective emotional growth.

Other artists investigate materiality as physical, indexical, and ghostly matter. Luis Vasquez uses palm oil, gold glitter, and gunpowder to build evanescent monuments that remind us of the quotidian and gruesome acts of slavery. Sandy Williams IV creates miniature wax versions of celebrated monuments to white supremacy that are burnt and reduced to a formless glob. Francheska Alcantara uses indigo dyed fabric to reference the blue of the ocean, but also the transatlantic trade of that substance and its ties to Black labor in the mercurial space of colonial America. LaRissa Rogers repurposes frozen orange juice to uncover, once again, the ties that bind subjugated labor and nourishment. Peat Szilagyi’s tapestries weave yarn and recycled plastic objects to redraft archaic narratives of gender and desire. Finally, Chino Amobi´s dramatic reading of his novel Eroica includes electronic noise, BDSM paraphernalia, a mosh pit, and altered symbols of American racism.

The title of this exhibition, Conjunctions and Disjunctions, comes from the 1969 book of essays by the writer Octavio Paz. In this work, he analyzed the pulsating and dialectical relationship between seemingly opposite entities. Echoing that gesture, this exhibition proposes a series of operations to express the relationship between different locations in the Americas, art objects and geopolitics, me and you and us and them.

Artists:

Francheska Alcantara, Chino Amobi, Lukaza Branfman-Verissimo, Bryan Castro, Deya Guy-Vasson, Kyrae Dawaun, Kelley-Ann Lindo, Malcolm Peacock, LaRissa Rogers, Peat Szilagyi, Luis Vasquez, Sandy Williams IV