Cudelice Brazelton & Nicholas Grafia
September 14 – October 20, 2019
Opening reception, Saturday, September 14, 2019, 6-8 pm
138 Eldridge St, New York, NY 10002
There is a question to be asked (but like, really): how do we deal with the surplus of produced images of black bodies and their innocent apposition on the gallery’s soft, white walls? In this cube, sanitized blackness bounces back and forth; it doesn’t know where to go. It is now stuck in the lightest of the dead-end, scrutinised and weakened, just a few symptoms of overexposure.
The word seems to scream at you but the more you spell “b_l_a_c_k”; the more the meaning changes. Many image-producers, committed to questioning the current atmosphere of blackness, deal with how to produce images, not only of but in blackness? Or even better: how to unmake blackness through image / imaging / imagination?
Frederick Douglass sanctified the “image – democracy – representation” trinity in his “Lecture on Pictures” 1861 - then advertised as “Pictures and Progress.” This should now be not only questioned but set ablaze. Against the gloss, let’s embrace the state of “the cheapness of the black-image,” a term employed by Douglass himself, and its “unbearable dissonance.”
Brazelton and Grafia are part of a generation of black practitioners on their way to question and reflect on what is expected from artists of colour. For this exhibition, Brazelton’s skin close-ups becoming moon-like, a strategy for cosmos-camouflage; and Grafia’s ultra-saturated “scenes” are storyboards for cinematographic performances.
One important thing to note is that the two artists are currently operating from Germany (Brazelton being based in Frankfurt, and Grafia in Dusseldorf). The acquaintance with another tradition of art-production; and a certain distance from the American-way-of-conceptualizing, notably blackness but not exclusively. This is surely, at least partly, responsible for a particular take on black-image-making and distributing.
Using Shoot The Lobster as a dead end, not to escape but occupy, these two “entrepreneurs of the self” (cf. Achille Mbembé) welcome you to come in and prune.
- Cédric Fauq
Cudelice Brazelton (b. 1991 Dallas, Texas) currently lives in Frankfurt, Germany. Selected exhibitions and screenings include Ten Toes Down, Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago; Bounty, Jeffrey Stark, New York; Le Colt est Jeune & Haine at DOC!, Paris; In Practice: Another Echo, Sculpture Center, Long Island City; and Like an Iron Glove Cast in Velvet, Interstate Projects, Brooklyn. He was a founding member of MINT Collective based in Columbus, OH, and attended Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture, ACRE (Artists’ Cooperative Residency & Exhibitions) and Ox-Bow School of Art & Artists’ Residency. Brazelton is currently participating in the Haegue Yang class at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste Städelschule, Frankfurt.
Nicholas Grafia (b. 1990, Angeles City, Philippines) currently lives in Düsseldorf, Germany. Selected exhibitions include Elbow Room, Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf (forthcoming); In-Visible Realness, PS120, Berlin; Body Works, State Art Gallery, Sopot; Pride & Prejudice: New Practices of Dignity, Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw. Grafia holds an MFA from the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, 2019, from the class of Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster. He has previously studied at the Kunstakademie Münster and British, American and Postcolonial Studies at the University of Münster, Germany.