"In the galleries: City life, and the possible menace that lies beneath" by Mark Jenkins

"In the galleries: City life, and the possible menace that lies beneath" by Mark Jenkins

an excerpt from the article...

Nakeya Brown & Christie Neptune

At Hamiltonian Gallery, Nakeya Brown and Christie Neptune construct likenesses of African American women. It might be said that these are self-portraits, but not literally. Both artists look to the past: Brown’s “Some Assembly Required” repurposes her grandmother’s photo album, while Neptune’s “Ms. _______ (Interior)” frames images of contemporary women with text that invokes a white-racist worldview.

Among Brown’s three diptychs of family photographs is a snapshot that shows flowery wallpaper. She used similar wallpaper as the backdrop for studies of outdated domestic items, including a cooking pot, an alarm clock and some hair conditioner. The presence of women from decades ago is implied, yet the exact image is left to be conjured by the observer.

Neptune uses both photos and video in various formats to picture black women who gaze obliquely at the viewer. Some of this slo-mo portraiture is accompanied by words that recall the age of European exploration. These correlate a subject’s unknown thoughts, as she turns the pages of a book, to the “interior” of continents that were once mysterious to white colonialists. The quest to understand strangers, the juxtaposition suggests, is as much political as psychological.

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