“you know how dangerous it is
to wear dark skin”
– Lucille Clifton
“Our skin is just a cover-up
For the land where none dare go,
an internal inferno,
The anathema of anatomy.”
– Wisława Szymborska
This exhibition includes new, old, recycled, and repurposed pieces that in some way contain flesh, skin, intestines, and other body parts. While making these pieces my mind was occupied with matters of race, specifically how the social construction of racial difference shapes emotion and cognition, marking and molding the body.
In “Letter From A Region In My Mind,” James Baldwin writes, “Long before the Negro child perceives this difference, and even longer before he understands it, he has begun to react to it, he has begun to be controlled by it.” The difference with which Baldwin is concerned is the distinction between white and black, a spurious pseudoscientific division at the rotten core of white supremacy, whose foremost tenet is white is might and right.
We may not be able to gauge emotional rewards and losses in the same way that we contest the value systems produced by racially discriminatory structures, but they are at work in the psychic realities of racial economies.
What I am exploring in these pieces is racialized emotion and how it manifests physically, within our flesh and skin, when we go through racially charged situations. How we metamorphose internally but also externally. How we circulate, assess, and express emotions in physical form. How we process collective guilt, pleasure, shame, or other emotional gains and losses. How the body transforms when we struggle for inclusion and how it reshapes itself when in need of racial contestation.