Stacey Goergen 2017-11-30 21:24:21
Exploring themes of racism and African-American activist history, Sanford Biggers’s new series cuts to the heart of our current social debate. “I see this as a continuum, a simple continuum of creation and meaning,” says the Harlembased artist Sanford Biggers, describing his multidisciplanary artistic practice. “I’m really interested in the malleability of history, and my role in that process.” After graduating from Morehouse College in 1992, Biggers moved to Japan, where he taught English and studied Buddhism. He became interested in the Japanese notion of celebrating profundity in mundane objects and their imperfections and began incorporating found objects in his art. These recycled items are imbued with unique histories, patinas and energies, and Biggers explains that he channels “the power of what is already there” by repurposing them. The artist, who in April was awarded the prestigious Rome Prize, also emphasizes that he uses his artistic practice to foster discussion. In his debut exhibition at New York’s Marianne Boesky Gallery this past fall, Biggers employed antique quilts and African sculptures to force his audience to address uncomfortable issues involving race, spirituality and beauty. He refashions the quilts, which reference those used as signaling devices for the Underground Railroad, into objects of complicated elegance that carry both history and symbolism. For his BAM pieces, he dips African sculptures in wax, shoots them with bullets, and then displays the cast figures with videos of the shootings. The violence of the gunfire directly affronts the appeal of the sculptural object, while reflecting the ongoing problem of police brutality and the black community. Biggers has addressed these issues throughout his career, but as our political conversation has increasingly focused on race and history, his work is ever more vital. And, as he says, “In challenging times, that means challenging work.” Biggers’s work is exhibited at Art Basel at Marianne Boesky Gallery’s booth, within the Miami Beach Convention Center. Sanford Biggers, Overstood, 2017, from the exhibition “Selah” at Marianne Boesky Gallery.
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