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Still from Aria Dean's But as One Doesn’t Know Where My Centre Is, One Will With Difficulty Ascertain The Truth . . . Though This Task Has Made Me Ill, It Will Also Make Me Healthy Again (Crowd Index), 2018

Aria Dean (American, born 1993). Still from But as One Doesn’t Know Where My Centre Is, One Will With Difficulty Ascertain The Truth . . . Though This Task Has Made Me Ill, It Will Also Make Me Healthy Again (Crowd Index), 2018. Video, running time: 10 minutes, 47 seconds. Image courtesy the artist and Château Shatto, Los Angeles.

Aria Dean

Saturday, October 13, 2018
Sunday, January 13, 2019

Gallery for New Media

Aria Dean (American, born 1993) is an artist, critic, and curator whose work examines the frameworks of our individual and collective identities. She is particularly interested in the complicated relationship between “blackness” and the internet, which has created new platforms for the creation and consumption of culture. This first solo museum presentation of Dean’s work includes three videos that explore how blackness is constructed through the repetition and circulation of its representations. Making references to pop culture, philosophical texts, and her own family history, these works are part of Dean’s contributions to a larger conversation on the social effects of new technologies.

Aria Dean's Eulogy for a Black Mass, 2017

Aria Dean (American, born 1993). Eulogy for a Black Mass, 2017. Video, running time: 5 minutes, 54 seconds. Image courtesy the artist, dis.art, and Château Shatto, Los Angeles.

Aria Dean's A River Called Death, 2017

Aria Dean (American, born 1993). A River Called Death, 2017. Video, running time: 7 minutes, 33 seconds. Image courtesy the artist and Château Shatto, Los Angeles.

The most recent work in the exhibition is an eleven-minute “supercut” entitled But as One Doesn’t Know Where My Centre Is, One Will With Difficulty Ascertain The Truth . . . Though This Task Has Made Me Ill, It Will Also Make Me Healthy Again (Crowd Index), 2018. Associated with the rise of internet video-sharing platforms, a supercut is a digital video montage comprising short clips connected by a shared motif—in this case, crowd scenes cut from decades of hip-hop videos that Dean found online. By removing the audio, she shifts our attention from the songs to the way in which such images have helped define blackness as a collective form. 

Eulogy for a Black Mass, 2017, overlays videos shared on social media with a voiceover that interrogates the structures that shape the meaning and perception of blackness. At the center of her investigation are online memes—those viral elements that are copied from user to user, helping to form virtual communities based on shared sensibilities. “Can we bilaterally think blackness through memes, and memes through blackness?,” Dean asks in the video. She later concludes that both blackness and memes may be understood as dynamic entities that circulate through networks, reflecting each other in their mutability. 

A River Called Death, 2017, belongs to a body of works that focus on Mississippi’s Yazoo River and its surroundings—the birthplace of her paternal grandfather—as a means of exploring the real and imagined legacy of the American South. The video intercuts her own footage of the river with a jarring “censor bleep” and a subtitled fictional narrative about a ghostly man. With its disjointed juxtaposition of image, sound, and text, A River Called Death points to visual media’s complex role in articulating the conditions of blackness.

This exhibition is organized by Assistant Curator Tina Rivers Ryan.

Admission to this exhibition is free during M&T FIRST FRIDAYS @ THE GALLERY.

Exhibition Sponsors

Equipment and technical support provided by Advantage TI.

The Albright-Knox Art Gallery’s exhibition program is generously supported by The Seymour H. Knox Foundation, Inc.

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