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Open Studios

Charisse Pearlina Weston

My name is Charisse Pearlina Weston and I am a 2022-2023 Artist in Residence at the Studio Museum in Harlem.
My work examines Black interior life, resistance, and technologies of surveillance. I am thinking about surveillance in terms of its material, as well as its ideological manifestations. I identify certain forms of architecture and photography as a material technology of surveillance and the Broken Windows theory or media coverage of black protest which works to undermine liberation, for example, as an ideological one. I interrogate, first, how these mechanisms employ socio-spatial proximity to manifest a constrictive form of intimacy and, second, how this intimacy enacts violence.
I contend with this dynamic interplay of violence and intimacy through the development and deployment of a series of creative processes and methods within my practice that I’ve come to term Black Tactics of resistance. These methods include various forms of repetition, enfoldment, concealment, and delay.
I am using these instances where elements return as a material articulation of a form of repetition that the late scholar James A. Snead referred to as constitutive of Black culture. This is a repetition that is both a temporal and spatial shift to and forward from many beginnings. For him, within the context of Black culture, failures or missteps, even collapses that evade the linearity of a capitalist thrust toward progress, can be generative. He specifically uses music as an example but I’m interested in thinking of this more globally.
Within my sculptures I use various instances of enfoldment, concealment and delay. Poetic text derived from autobiographical fragments is strategically etched within folds or, if not within a fold, is positioned so that it shifts in and out of legibility due to the translucency of glass surface it is etched on. This for me represents the elusiveness of interior life.
The instances of enfoldment within these works, which I also think of as a form of repetition, function also to conceal and distort photographic material—I want to delay recognition in order to privilege opacity.
The highlight of the residency for me has been my cohort. Getting to know Devin and Jeffrey has been really great and the kind of community that we've built. Being in conversation about our work, about other things has been really great and I feel like that's, maybe that's what I usually value the most in residencies. So yeah, I'm very happy with the group dynamic.
I've found a lot of inspiration in researching the architectural and real estate history of Harlem. Harlem's rich and complex history has provided a great deal of source material to think about.