ALLANA CLARKE I A Particular Fantasy
Allana Clarke’s first institutional solo exhibition, A Particular Fantasy, is a collaboration between Usdan Gallery at Bennington College and Art Omi, with complementary installations across venues.
A Trinidadian-American artist, Clarke is known for using materials such as sugar, cocoa butter and hair-bonding glue to confront histories of colonialism and Western standards of beauty. While her photographs and videos look closely at bodies, her sculptures repurpose products designed for use on bodies. Her process often begins by pouring large, thick quantities of hair-bonding glue onto a flat surface to create a “skin,” which she stretches, pulls, pleats and molds using her hands and feet. Her somatic technique transubstantiates a toxic substance into stunning objects that ripple, curl, shimmer, twist and glisten.
Covering Clarke’s practice over the past ten years, A Particular Fantasy takes its title from theorist, activist and poet Audre Lorde’s essay “Eye to Eye: Black Women, Hatred, and Anger” (1984). In it, she describes her anger as a “molten pond at the core of me.” The essay argues for new womanist understandings of self to emerge, generated by and through relationships between Black women as a critical way to extricate themselves from the “racist sexist cauldron” of American history.