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Radical Presence: Black Performance in Contemporary Art - Closing Reception

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Published on Apr 17, 2013

Each work was performed and documented Friday, February 15, 2013 at Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, in conjunction with "Radical Presence: Black Performance in Contemporary Art." Performances by Pope.L, Jacolby Satterwhite, and Xaviera Simmons.

From the press release:

Pope.L's new work, Costuming the Body with Nothing (2012), was repeated, unannounced, periodically during the run of the exhibition. The action--an endurance work--is that of a figure walking through the gallery space and standing, arm extended into a void, until exhausted. The wall, which has an opening for the performer to insert his arm, will essentially act as a recorder of the performance. The work will be activated one last time during the closing reception

Pope.L (b. 1955) is an artist known for his irreverent performance art that strikes at the heart of contemporary sociopolitical concerns. He has eaten copies of The Wall Street Journal, crawled up and down Manhattan, given away money to strangers, and tied himself to a bank door as a means to investigate the varying racial dynamics in contemporary society, the price of capitalism, and the differences between the haves and the have-nots.

Jacolby Satterwhite will bring to life the sculptural three-channel video body suit Orifice (2010) now on display in the exhibition Radical Presence. Satterwhite conceptualizes this performance as a way "to extend the frame and content in the video installation from digital space to public and live space." He weaves together 3D animation, drawing, and video with performance to create a work that "slips between modern dance and voguing."

Satterwhite was born in 1986 in South Carolina. He earned his MFA from the University of Pennsylvania in 2010. The construction of his video works stems from a collaboration with his mother, battling schizophrenia, who creates fantastical drawings that Satterwhite threads together with the help of C.G.I. animation. His solo exhibition at Monya Rowe Gallery in New York is on view through February 16.

Xaviera Simmons performs two works, Multitudinousness Summer or Color Of Moon (2010) and This Black Woman (2012), both of which respond to the history of performance art and seminal historical movements that have shaped this country's political and social landscape. While each score presents viewers with divergent strategies and tactics found in the performance genre, Simmons performs each of them in the evening's event to show not only the variances of the genre but also her own directives in engaging the practice. Performed on the same evening, the works serve to test the artist's own endurance as a performer and that of the audience.

This Black Woman begins as an ode to the life and work of Elaine Brown, the first female Black Panther Party president, a mother, activist, author, and musician. Through the performance, Simmons uses Brown's life as a foundation to name and engage the lives of a plethora of Black women and their respective narratives. Multitudinousness Summer or Color Of Moon was written to engage the Fluxus movement and the limitless expressions of common gestures in the framework of pure spectacle.

Simmons was born in New York in 1974 and currently lives and works in Brooklyn. In 2004, she received her BFA in photography from Bard College. In much of her work, Simmons traverses the real and the staged with fluidity, creating open-ended narratives that highlight the plurality of history itself.

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