Quiver of Voices
Across these practices, questions of artistic agency come to the fore. What arrows rest in the artist’s quiver? What can be done with them? Thinking beyond violence and beyond oppression, might some agency originate in the fragility and vulnerability of the single individual offering an artistic vision?
In a time of simultaneous limbo and intense, overwhelming changes, the many valences and plural experiences of time crash together into a discordant, multi-sensory clanging. To speak of art as a site of quiet has long been a cliché. Indeed each art object, if not photography more than any other media, adds to the noise. Yet within the cacophony, concordant sounds emerge, a quiet quivering harmony of individuals singing new songs.
Elliott Jerome Brown Jr. uses fragmentation and opacity to examine the optical unconscious, those elements of life that are ever-present yet invisible to the unaided human eye. Domestic settings are a frequent subject, sites full of memories, emotions, and relationships positive, negative, and otherwise. Through obscurity and opacity, the remnants of lives unlived, words unsaid, and suffering born silently all reveal their presence in crevices and corners.
The facilitation of memory motivates Nonzuzo Gxekwa in her photographic practice. Capturing everyday lives by drawing upon histories of documentary and street photography, her commutes and walks through Johannesburg generate chance encounters. Having moved from a small town in South Africa to Johannesburg ten years ago, her photographs provide a basis for storytelling, the spontaneity of passing moments reveal the unvarnished struggles and successes of those living in that constantly changing city. The steadily moving shutter of her practice provides an overlay of rhythmic threads across neighborhoods and interpersonal communities.
For Darryl DeAngelo Terrell, photographs function as stages on which to rehearse and represent alternative histories and new futures. The theatricality of life, its staging, performativity, cast of characters and many scripts, are reconsidered through representations of Black, queer experiences. The immediacy of the contemporary is abandoned in favor of a transhistorical vision, arrows of time shot in all directions.