A consideration of how identities are formed in love and in resistance to the brutality of colonial world-making, Alex Callender's Difficult Love (What Scatters and Comes Back Together) explores a fictional Atlantic history, performed in scenes by women channeled from colonial paintings and archives. In this body of work, Callender reimagines the lives of women who haunt the speculative landscapes of colonial Caribbean images—women who are often viewed as some extension of an exotic landscape, and formed through the European imagination of race, gender, and buying power. Uncovering written and material histories of the Black Atlantic, the artist tries to reimagine these women’s relationship to self, collective identities, power, and the (in)visible Black labor, embodied in colonial imagery, and how it relates to our present. Remixing the landscapes and subjectivities of colonial archives, she asks viewers to consider how economic narratives are masked to present hegemonic myths about who belongs and who does not in Western canonical imagery. Callender’s work uses the language of colonial kitsch to establish different social spaces of an invented colonial outpost, spaces in which the figures and the landscapes themselves appear in a continual state of being constructed and breaking away.
Opening Reception: February 5th at 5 pm
This event is presented as a part of Gallatin’s 2020 Black History Month programming.
Alex Callender’s studio practice incorporates painting, drawing and installation to explore intersections between myth, identity and material culture. Through the visual forms of historical narrative, repurposed archival imagery, and speculative fictions, she considers questions of race and borders, environmental instability, and hybridized landscapes. Callender has exhibited both nationally and internationally, and has held studio residencies with the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, The Drawing Center’s Open Session program, the Art in Embassies Program, The Vermont Studio Center, Urban Glass, the Tides Institute and Museum of Art, Alice Yard in Trinidad, and DRAWinternational and The BAU Institute in France. Callender is currently an Assistant Professor of Art at Smith College. Callender will be included in the 6th Ghetto Biennale in Haiti, which considers texts by Susan Buck-Morss and other scholars, to rethink concepts of democratic freedoms, as being intimately connected to the Haitian Revolution, and not just a product of European Liberalism. In spring 2020, Callender is creating a work for MayDay 2020, an exhibition in conjunction with Artspace, New Haven, and the Yale University archives, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Black Panther Party protests at Yale.
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