I just spent three months this past winter living in Los Angeles where white people are now a minority and people of color wear their ethnicity with pride. Except for the white people, who mostly think they have no identity. Pacific Standard Time, The Getty Museum’s semi-annual region-wide extravaganza was in full force during our trip. It was called LA/LA this time, and featured Latin American artists from Los Angeles and other countries. All the museums, university galleries, non-profit art centers, and many commercial galleries participated.
Identity is everywhere it seems. There are an infinite number of ways to express it and it is essential to our evolution as a society. After centuries of pressure from European culture to assimilate, we need to learn about other cultures, religions, heritages, etc. Even though white people may not want to see another artist showing their experience being oppressed, those stories need to be told.
Sondra Perry, in her current installation Chromatic Saturation at Disjecta Contemporary Art Center, has created a work that is based on her experience as a black person. But it is technology heavy, complex, and surprising. I was especially interested in a double track video that filled one of Disjecta’s huge walls called “Lineage for a Multiple-Monitor Workstation: Number One.” It is a non linear documentary of the Perry family hanging out at home in New Jersey peeling sweet potatoes, taking pictures of each other and walking around the neighborhood, while wearing bright green ski masks in chrome green. The ski masks reference the color used as a masking backdrop in video production but I saw them as a humorous comment on oppression and stereotyping. Instead of letting outside groups define her family, she set up a loose staged performance where the family members jokingly labeled themselves. Audio of her family chatting with each other was another layer available via headphone. They could even be poking fun at the illusion of identity. When they finally removed the ski masks, and we could see their faces, the differences between each person was striking. The installation, which included several other works by Perry, was curated by Curator in Residence Julia Greenway,
Chromatic Saturation is at Disjecta Contemporary Art Center, 8371 N Interstate, Portland, OR from March 18-April 28, 2018.