(Self) Portrait Through The AmeryKahn Prism, an installation of multiple painted images, seeks to reconfigure many of the cascading representations of what has recently been termed “the black body.” My project, which is a complex network of interrelated pictorial elements (“pix/els”), looks to turn the racialized conception of “the black body” on its proverbial head by resisting cultural accommodation to both the pictorial (figural) and the lexical literalness of this term.
The pix/els, which have been modeled from the imagination, direct observation, and photographs, are stylized with reference to “traditional” portrait techniques and modernist abstract forms, intercultural symbols, textual motifs, and imagined three-dimensional structures that are primarily made of paper with mixed media. By visually juxtaposing a wide variety of painted images, my project seeks to identify, question, and categorize various racial discourses into a unified pictorial matrix in order to reveal the fallacy and the ideological nature of a racialized world.
Through the creation of a vibrant and multiform image structure, the politicized “black body” can be seen for what it is: a racialist artifice that was constructed to define people who are uniformly alleged to be of “African” descent in some relationship to a “white” universe.
(Self) Portrait Through the Amerykahn Prism’s multiple, linked “narratives” are activated as the spectator physically moves while surveying the network pix/els. From one pix/el to the next or from one image cluster to the next, the spectator is entirely free to choose how the images are sequenced in their imagination. Thus, this visual exploration is informed by an abstracted cinematographic apparatus that is activated by the spectator’s participation in the coding, un-coding, and re-coding of sequences of images mediated by the viewer’s choices.
The spectator’s digital mobile device, set to invert colors, also serves as an intermediary to view the images in an alternative mode. This inverted view on the screen of the digital device prompts further questions about the role of visual media in our perceptions of race and difference.
(Self) Portrait Through The AmeryKahn Prism,
oil, acrylic, enamel, mixed media on Arches paper (detail) with pedestal and iPad (media device) configured to invert colors,
244 in x 50.2 in (6,2 m x 1,3 m), 2016-2018, ongoing.
(as installed in studio, Cambridge, MA, USA, 11 May 2018)