projects+gallery, a St. Louis commercial art space designed to present multidisciplinary exhibitions, is pleased to announce the public opening of TRANSPARENCY SHADE: SEEING THROUGH THE SHADOW on April 7th, 2017. The exhibition is curated by Modou Dieng and features artists Philip Aguirre y Otegui, Zoe Buckman, Kendell Carter, Kahlil Irving, Ayana V Jackson, Michael Riedel and Hank Willis Thomas.

About TRANSPARENCY SHADE: SEEING THROUGH THE SHADOW:

TRANSPARENCY SHADE: SEEING THROUGH THE SHADOW is a group exhibition of two-and three-dimensional artwork that conveys post-identity semiotics, or the use and interpretation of visual and linguistic signs and symbols that function to form identity. The artists in TRANSPARENCY SHADE: SEEING THROUGH THE SHADOW use cultural appropriation and hybrid materials to articulate the concept, engaging with and also problematizing such appropriation to investigate how meaning is and has been created in a postcolonial world. 

 Philip Aguirre y Otegui makes sculptures, paintings, drawings, collages, prints and installations using traditional materials to engage with contemporary politics and the social condition, often reflecting a profound sense of human tragedy. His sculpture Petit Monument (2010) alludes to the art historical tradition of equestrian sculpture and originated as a design for a monument in honor of Willem of Orange and Marnix of Saint Aldegonde, two sixteenth-century political figures of great importance for Antwerp and the Netherlands in times of humanism and religious wars. Cabinet is a collection and installation of various objects, assemblages and sculptures dating from distinct periods throughout the artist’s oeuvre, which construct a narrative of associations that encourages the viewer to reflect on notions of migration, colonial conflicts, issues of water, geopolitics and the role of the artist. 

Multi-disciplinary London-based artist Zoë Buckman explores themes of feminism, mortality and equality in her sculptural, photographic and installation work. Buckman’s most recent body of work, Let Her Rave (2016), is both inspired by and a response to a stanza in John Keats’ Ode on Melancholy that reads ‘Or if thy mistress some rich anger shows/ Imprison her soft hand, and let her rave/ And feed deep, deep upon her peerless eyes.’ Buckman grapples with the problematic implications of these lines and the complex aggression that women face each day in her mixed media sculptures that combine bunches of boxing gloves in reconstituted wedding dress fabric with metal chain and embellishments. In this series, the artist juxtaposes discordant textures and symbols of masculinity and femininity that speak to the idea not only that women can be both ‘feminine’ and ‘ferocious,’ but that women must be that way. 

Born in New Orleans and based in Long Beach, the work of Kendell Carter recalls the aesthetic vibrance and play of California pop and street art while dialoguing with issues related to race and gender that have pervaded the American sociopolitical environment for generations. Carter’s practice of mixing objects, materials and design traditions—from graffiti sculptures to bronze-plated sneakers—come together in immersive installations that champion the idea of art as experience and function as the starting point for discussions on community, consumerism, the definition of art and utility. In his sculptural installation We (2012), the artist fuses hip-hop and art history, constructing a visual rhythm that relocates and reimagines familiar objects to evoke a sense of the uncanny, while encouraging in the viewer a new understanding of identity politics and community construction.

Currently living and working in St. Louis, Kahlil Irving is a multimedia artist whose practice and installations are intentional and are used as a way for the viewer to navigate their own bodily experience in reference to the art works. Irving endeavors to challenge historical notions of Colorism, structural barriers that separate communities, and objects that exist within the history of decorative arts. His work Soul Sitters (Still Standing) (2017) is a new investigation in his studio that explores how historical objects can be transformed into new unidentifiable objects and exist in a new arena outside of their historical contexts. This work translates history or materials from real space to engage a new conversation of how we deal with colors and forms. The interiors are limited and limitless. The surface of the objects is intuitive, exploratory, and an extension of the artist’s hand. These objects have been made before by others and Irving calls on this history to fill them or not. With this work, the artist aims to realign how sculptures are seen and activate a space. 

Ayana V Jackson is an American artist and photographer based between Johannesburg, New York and Paris. Her work seeks to crystallize the experience of contemporary Africa and African diasporic societies, combining technical skill with richly laced historical allusions to create hauntingly candid portraits that depict varying constructions of African and African-American identities. In photographs such as What Will You Tell About Me? Do You Feel Pain? (2013) and Diorama (2013), Jackson confronts late nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century photographs taken during the period of colonial expansion in Africa and the Americas. Engaging Hal Foster’s idea that through the confrontation of the archive new systems of knowledge can be created, Jackson interprets and appropriates historical materials and images to inform her visual experiments, in which the artist occupies the position of photographer, “subject”, “author” and editor.

Michael Riedel lives and works in Frankfurt, and his artistic practice incorporates painting, text, audio, video, photography, publishing, architecture and performance to engage with the aesthetic possibilities derived from the basic principles of recording, labeling and playback. Riedel often recycles and copies his own past work, as well as art-related objects and artwork by others, in order to comment on, expand, or even invert the meaning and intention of the original object. His conceptual works engage participants in explorations of art, viewership and technology, while his practice of appropriation combines deadpan and a renewed form of institutional critique. His printed works treat language more as a visual material than a carrier of meaningful messages. Printed words, often barely visible, become white noise and visual poetry for the digital age and function as monuments in the constantly shifting mediascape. 

Based in New York, Hank Willis Thomas is a conceptual artist who uses the medium of photography to focus on themes of perspective identity, history, race, commodity, popular culture and class. In artworks like I Am A White Agitator and Amelia Falling (2016) Willis Thomas employs language and familiar imagery from the Civil Rights era, appropriating historical visual media and stripping it of its context to open up questions of cultural stereotypes, and the way the media perpetuates them. The artist sees cultural disconnects everywhere in day-to-day living particularly as it relates to race. In his work, Willis Thomas perceptively engages what W. E. B. Du Bois called double consciousness, the condition in which people see themselves reflected, often negatively, in the view of others and end up molding their lives to confirm that view. And his practice has thus gone beyond making art, to examining and exposing deeper divides in our culture. 

In this exhibition curated by Modou Dieng, these artists come into conversation with one another, providing a space in which to explore complex systems articulated around design and execution that have been employed in the cultural realization of identities as they continue to emerge in new transcultural and hybrid forms.

Modou Dieng was born in Saint-Louis, Senegal. He is a multidisciplinary artist and curator exploring the symbolic and mythological power of pop culture icons through mixed media and hybrid materials. His work constructs a mural of archetypal cultural imagery filtered through the perspective of a Generation X African. As an artist Dieng has exhibited locally and internationally with numerous Galleries and Museum including  Pascal Polar (Brussels); Steve Turner Gallery (Los Angeles); Studio Museum (NY) Pulsar (Antwerp); Dakar Biennale; Carousel du Louvre (Paris); Sarah Lawrence College (NY); Museum of Contemporary African and Diaspora Art (Brooklyn); Casa Encendida (Madrid); Portland Biennial; Dieng has curated in Germany; Belgium; San Francisco; Dakar; and is founder/curator of the decade old alter-native space Worksound in Portland, OR.  Dieng holds an MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute and is currently an Associate Professor at Pacific Northwest College of Art. 

We would like to extend our gratitude to everyone who helped to make this exhibition possible. Special thanks to Charlotte Eyerman and Danielle Jackson for their essay contributions to the exhibition catalogue, as well as Jesse Siegel and Doug Filiak for its design and production. The printed catalogue is available for purchase in the gallery. We would also like to thank Alex Bissennette for his assistance in the installation of this exhibition. 

TRANSPARENCY SHADE: SEEING THROUGH THE SHADOW will open at projects+gallery from 5-8pm on Friday, April 7th and is free to the public. The exhibition will be on view at projects+gallery until Saturday, May 27th, 2017.