Kahlil Robert Irving at MoMA – The Museum of Modern Art

For his solo exhibition right here, Kahlil Robert Irving has frozen the act of browsing the web and transposed it into wallpaper that covers a whole gallery on the museum’s first flooring. Bringing to thoughts photos of laptop computer screens crowded with infinite home windows and tabs, Irving immerses us within the muddle and clamor of on-line life through memes, social media screenshots, e-newspaper headlines, and extra. On plenty of partitions, this seemingly infinite universe of indicators is ready towards a background of clouds, as if this digital realm had been heaven.

Irving’s frenetic tapestry is particularly involved with intervening on the aporia of Black life on the web, the place Black tradition is each spectacularized but secret, and the place Black sociality is hyper-visible however opaque, given the idiosyncratic languages and codes that surreptitiously flow into amongst Black web customers. The layers of contradiction that animate Blackness dwell with out apology within the tumult of Irving’s set up.

Irving additionally elaborates on these tensions by a juxtaposition of comedy and tragedy: Headlines about anti-Black violence collide with memes sourced from Black Twitter as “weary” face emojis partially obscure photos of an Black man sure with rope and led by the streets of Galveston, Texas, by a pair of cops on horseback—a horrific scene not from the distant previous, however from solely three years in the past. On the gallery flooring, ceramics busy with equally strong concatenations of discovered media give these contradictions three-dimensional type. For instance, in Arches & requirements (Stockley ain’t the one one). Meissen Matter : STL matter, 2018, dainty vintage chinaware is woven into heavy, roughly textured asphalt and different supplies, all of which is coated with adverts and pictures of demonstrations following the 2017 acquittal of Jason Stockley, the Saint Louis police officer who shot and killed a Black man by the identify of Anthony Lamar Smith in 2011.

However inside this bricolage of familiar-yet-overwhelming imagery, Irving leaves discrete traces of his presence that floor the work in a actuality that’s shared, but in addition individually particular. His ceramics bear the bodily imprints of his palms, whereas on the partitions digital screenshots made on Irving’s personal pc reveal a life lived within the type of time stamps, mobile battery statuses, “likes” and different types of social media commentary by the artist. In revealing his personal presence, Irving carves a quiet intimacy out of digital pandemonium.

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