CUE Art Foundation is pleased to present Object-Subject: Flaw is the Only Recourse, a solo exhibition by Danielle Deadwyler, curated and mentored by Tiona Nekkia McClodden. The exhibition consists of three bodies of work: a short film, titled CHOR(E)S; the lenticularities, a series of 232 self portraits; and 3 lenticularities posters overlaid with text from the 1881 Atlanta Washerwoman Manifesto. Together, these bodies of work explore what bell hooks calls “that act of speech, of ‘talking back,’ that is no mere gesture of empty words, that is the expression of our movement from object to subject — the liberated voice.”
Deadwyler summons the spirits and the labor of the Black women who orchestrated the Atlanta Washerwomen Strike in 1881 in 3 self portraits, or lenticularities, that are transformed into posters and overlaid with quotations pulled from their manifesto, such as “We will have full control.” Both a demand and a warning, Deadwyler calls out, or is recalled to, the eponymous strike of Black laundresses that took place less than two decades after the Civil War ended as they demanded better working conditions, pay, and autonomy over their labor along with visibility, respect, and recognition for the work that laundresses, and all Black women workers, contributed to Atlanta’s economy.
The success of this particular labor strike is both highlighted by and in tension with the film CHOR(E)S, in which the artist choreographs her own body throughout an otherwise empty house in a performative critique of the weight of domestic labor. Her face is shrouded in hair, giving the illusion that she is facing away from the camera even as her body faces toward us. The figure’s isolated and repetitive actions are performed throughout uninhabited rooms and set to a poetic chopped ‘n screwed audio mix. This domestic figure, who does not allow herself to be seen, calls into question the visibility of domestic labor in general as a task which still falls disproportionately to Black women, women of color, and femmes to execute over 100 years after the Atlanta Washerwomen Strike. Installed alongside the film is a suite of 232 self-portraits, titled lenticularities, made over the course of 3 years from 2017-2020. These portraits, made with iPhone images and photocopies that were then drawn on and otherwise altered, obscured, and embellished, explore serial self-making and the performance of the selves that reside within the artist. The chorus of selves play with the idea of flaw and difference through repetition and accumulation, and the shifts that inevitably result as glitches become reified.
Throughout her work, Deadwyler explores the idea of possession and inhabitation of the self by the multitude of selves we contain within us and by the spirits of others outside of us, whether we be willing recipients or coerced into such possession. As McClodden writes in the accompanying exhibition catalogue, “This work is personal, it is private, it is hard, and what it confronts often goes unspoken. It is her life, and the privacy that must be demanded to ensure that must be firm. The lenticularities and CHOR(E)S portend reclamation, as the image of the self is the one that is delivered by her hand. This re-figuring is the ultimate image by virtue of intersubjective interpretation.”
Danielle Deadwyler [she/her/they] is an American-born multidisciplinary performance artist, filmmaker, and actor. Deadwyler’s award winning experimental film work has been presented at the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, Atlanta Film Festival, New Orleans Film Festival, Cucalorus Film Festival, and Oxford Film Fest. She has exhibited with MAMBU BADU collective, Mint Gallery, Whitespace Gallery, The Luminary, Atlanta Contemporary Museum, and Spelman College’s Museum of Fine Art Black Box Series, among others. Numerous grants have supported Deadwyler’s works, including IDEA CAPITAL, ELEVATE Atlanta, Living Walls, Synchronicity Theatre, WonderRoot Walthall Fellowship, and Artadia. She is a former Atlanta Film Festival Filmmaker-in-Residence, MINT Gallery Leap Year Fellowship Recipient, a 2020 Franklin Furnace Recipient, and a 2021 Princess Grace Award Winner.
Tiona Nekkia McClodden [she/her] is a visual artist, filmmaker, and curator whose work explores and critiques issues at the intersections of race, gender, sexuality, and social commentary. McClodden’s interdisciplinary approach traverses documentary film, experimental video, sculpture, and sound installations. Most recently, her work has explored the themes of re-memory and narrative biomythography. Her works have been shown at the Institute of Contemporary Art (Philadelphia); the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum, and MoMA PS1 (New York); Haus der Kulturen der Welt (Berlin); MOCA (Los Angeles); and MCA (Chicago). Most recently, she is the recipient of the 2021-2023 Princeton Arts Fellowship, a Bucksbaum Award for her work in the 2019 Whitney Biennial, and a 2019 Guggenheim Fellowship in Fine Arts, among others. In 2017-18, she curated A Recollection. + Predicated. as a part of the multi-artist retrospective Julius Eastman: That Which is Fundamental, exhibited in Philadelphia and New York. Her writing has been featured on the Triple Canopy platform, in Artforum, Cultured Magazine, Art21 Magazine, and many other publications. Tiona lives and works in North Philadelphia, PA and is the Founder + Director of Philadelphia-based Conceptual Fade, a micro-gallery and library space centering Black thought + artistic production.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a 32-page color catalogue, with texts by Danielle Deadwyler, Tiona Nekkia McClodden, and Bryn Evans. The catalogue will be available online and free of charge to gallery visitors.
CUE Art Foundation
137 West 25th Street, Ground Floor
New York, NY 10001, USA