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.