At The Studio Museum in Harlem, performance artist EJ Hill lays on a low rectangular platform. Behind him is a model roller coaster adorned with purple neon lights. Hill is a 2015–16 artist in residence at The Studio Museum in Harlem, and this piece, A Monumental Offering of Potential Energy, is part of Tenses, the exhibition that culminates the three artists' eleven-month residency.
Jibade-Khalil Huffman’s practice depends on ideas, and the medium is his way of bringing these ideas to life, not the other way around. As a poet and artist, his work exists in between the visual and textual, and utilizes poetry, video, photography, installation, performance and painting. His initial months at The Studio in Harlem allowed him to return to painting, take new photographs and work on a two-channel, seventeen-minute video piece, filming some scenes in Harlem. When asked to narrow down his practice, Huffman told me he would reluctantly choose writing, photography and video. Luckily at the Studio Museum he faces no such circumstances, freely tackling lingering ideas on narrative and audience.
Coming into his residency at the Studio Museum, EJ Hill was well known for his performance practice. In pieces like The Fence Mechanisms (2014), O Captor My Captor (2014), Complicit and Tacit (2014), and Untitled (2012), Hill uses his body as a means to assert his agency, vulnerability and dissent, within a society that would view it as a threat. However, alongside his performance pieces, Hill has been creating quieter, more solitary work—drawings, paintings, photographs and music. While exploring possible performance opportunities at the Studio Museum, Hill is expanding into these quieter creative avenues, fearlessly expanding his practice.
As a self-professed impatient painter, Jordan Casteel is keen to put oil to canvas. Walking into her sunlit section within the artist-in-residence studios at The Studio Museum in Harlem, her large canvases and drawings were mounted upon the walls in various stages of progress, I was surprised to learn she felt behind schedule. Since receiving her MFA from Yale in 2014, Casteel has focused mainly on the black male figure. This subject matter continued on through exhibitions at Sargent’s Daughters (2014 and 2015), and now it reaches the Studio Museum. A few months since beginning her residency and moving to Harlem, Casteel continues to challenge the depiction of the black male figure through her large expressive portraits, but Harlem has already left its impression.
Paul Mpagi Sepuya
As an intern in the Curatorial department at The Studio Museum in Harlem, I have the opportunity to explore how the Museum functions behind the scenes. At work, it is exciting to observe how our curators harness the power that exhibitions and their surrounding discourse possess in order to activate art as a social and political tool. Selecting artists and framing their work in relation to broader thematic concerns is one of a curator’s primary responsibilities, and I am especially interested in the long-term relationships between our curators and the artists. The Artist-in-Residence program at the Studio Museum, founded in 1968, provides an excellent example of the close working relationships between curators and creators. One of my projects at the Museum is to manage a database of information concerning AIR alumni.
Eric Mack, 2014–15 AIR
In the second of a series of three blog posts, Curatorial Intern Mallory Cohen writes about her studio visits with each of the current artists in residence. Read Mallory's first post here.
Eric Mack’s works shuttle between humor and a heady abstract expressionism, and his art offers neither legibility nor instant gratification. The payoff that sustained engagement with his work yields, however, is more than enough reward.
Lauren Halsey, 2014–15 AIR
In the first of a series of three blog posts, Curatorial Intern Mallory Cohen writes about her studio visits with each of the current artists in residence.
As I stepped into Lauren Halsey’s studio on the third floor of the Studio Museum, I was immediately struck by the artist’s impressive—and large—ambitions. An eight-by-twelve-foot square of sheetrock takes up the vast majority of Halsey’s studio floor, leaving only a small walkway around its perimeter. The sheetrock is split into two-by-two-foot squares, which feature ancient Egyptian iconography mixed with carvings of Harlem and Los Angeles. Images of sarcophagi and the pyramids stand stand-by-side with phone numbers, corporate signage and portraits of LA citizens—symbols of the urban present elevated alongside mythological expressions of the past.
Tiffany Barber talks to Manuel Mathieu
“Repetition” and “recirculation” are words typically associated with mid-twentieth century representational practices. From silkscreen prints to text-based neon works, artists such as Andy Warhol, Richard Hamilton, Bruce Nauman, Tracey Emin and Glenn Ligon have contested the rise of consumerism in popular media and culture. Now, the sites in which images are made and circulated have multiplied, as well as the means by which we invest images with values to correspond to our identities. What are the stakes of representation and artmaking in this ‘new media’ landscape?
Ayana V. Jackson
Per the gracious introduction of Thomas Lax, I had the opportunity to meet and visit with Ayana V. Jackson some time ago. We first met in Berlin, where Ayana graciously guided me around the city. Jackson, a US American and graduate of Spelman College, splits her time between Johannesburg, New York and Paris, where we followed up a few weeks later to discuss her work and artistic practice. Her photography and filmmaking, while simultaneously alluring and shocking, serve a higher conceptual function: a bitingly intelligent elucidation of the power of the image, the scars of history and the internalized architectures of difference built thereof. Confronting what she terms the “original sin of images,” Jackson manipulates her own body as subject, creating a running critique of socialized perceptions of race, gender and class and their intersections.