ALLANA CLARKE | An Infinitive Breath
Galerie Thomas Zander is delighted to present the first European exhibition of sculptural wall works, photographs and installations by the artist Allana Clarke.
Allana Clarke (*1987) is a Trinidadian-American artist whose practice contends with ideas of Blackness and the binding nature of bodily signification. Fluidly moving through sculptural and text-based work, photography, video and performance, she explores the possibility to create new, non-totalizing identifying structures. The Detroit based artist looks at the ways in which she was conditioned through rituals into a world that is anti-Black. She extracts materials that were part of these ambivalent beauty rituals, specifically hair bonding glue (a rubber latex material with carbon black dye used to adhere weaves and hair extensions to the head) and cocoa butter. The materials are stripped of their utilitarian recognition, allowing them to exist within a new articulation. While the cocoa butter is cast in molds in the text works or alternately melts and solidifies in a kinetic object, the bond glue sculptures have a performative aspect: As the glue dries, it develops a leathery skin. The artist performs gestures of pulling, pinching and pushing on it, which leave marks, folds and wrinkles on the surface of the striking abstract wall sculptures. A similar process is at work for the artist’s body in her photographic works. In order to speak a truth of the self, Clarke must strip down layers of projections assigned to her through an historical order in which she has never had agency. She establishes the body, her body, as an unadorned subject marked by this past, and embarking on a process of transcendence.
Allana Clarke received her BFA in photography from New Jersey City University and an MFA in Interdisciplinary Practice from MICA’s Mount Royal School of Art. She teaches at Wayne State University in Detroit. Following several grants, she recently completed NXTHVN fellowship, a mentorship program co-founded by artist Titus Kaphar.