Curated by Nana Adusei-Poku, a year-long series of events inspired by Todd Gray: Euclidean Gris Gris
September 2019-April 2020
Todd Gray’s alluring, lush photographic installations create portals from one realm into another—spatially, culturally, and individually. Bodies are never fully visible, landscapes are concealed, and photographs are cut apart and reassembled into collage-like constellations. The artist plays with notions of the familiar and the unknown, allowing the spectator to fill in the gaps with ideas of a non-linear history of coloniality.
These nine events in Longing on a Large Scale are inspired by Gray’s techniques of rupturing the body/nature binary, and examining the intimacies of Black sociality. The program series proposes a dialogue with Gray’s work and current intellectual and artistic discourses, including the possibilities of Black Liberation, the relationship between institutional politics and systemic exclusion, the role of art and the imaginary, the tension between performativity and performance in relationship to race and gender, and the role of curation as an act of care. The title Longing on a Large Scale riffs on the author Don DeLillo’s quote “Longing on a large scale is what makes history,” and it emphasizes the needs, desires, and possibilities that non-linear engagements with our present moment offer. Gray’s work is particularly focused on landscape images from the African continent, people of African descent, and European gardens, and the series engages current Black Studies, particularly the premise that “No-body is free, if Black people aren’t free.”
This program includes artists, poets, activists, and thinkers who work to unpack colonial paradigms and explore strategies of resistance. The colonial violence that Gray’s photography consistently captures points towards the fact that, while it is centuries old, multilayered, and has undergone structural transformations, nevertheless there are glitches that allow visitors who desire and long for other possibilities to see, hear, feel, taste, create, bond, and imagine an alternative future.
Nana Adusei-Poku, PhD, is Senior Academic Advisor and Luma Fellow at the Center for Curatorial Studies and Contemporary Art at Bard College. She was previously Visiting Professor in Art History of the African Diaspora at the Cooper Union in New York City. At the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam, she was Research Professor for Cultural Diversity (2013–14) and Visual Cultures (2015–17). From 2012 to 2018, she was Guest Lecturer at the University of the Arts, Zurich. She received her PhD from Humboldt University Berlin for her thesis on post-Black art, in the program Gender as a Category of Knowledge, following degrees in African studies and gender studies at Humboldt University and in media and communications at Goldsmiths College, University of London. She has been a visiting scholar at the University of Ghana, Legon; London School of Economics; and Columbia University, New York. Her articles have been published in Nka Journal of Contemporary African Art, e-flux journal, Kunstforum International, Flash Art, L’Internationale, and Darkmatter, and her work has been translated in English, German, Portuguese, French, and Swedish. She curated the exhibition “NO HUMANS INVOLVED,” at Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam (2015), and the event Performances of No-thingness, at the Academy of Arts Berlin (2018).