In paintings, drawings, photographs and installation, I meditate on my years in Chicago through multiple lenses: personal identity, politics, history and religious practice. The titles and content of these works invite viewers to consider the ways in which black thinkers, writers and artists speak widely and richly to black experience, and how through this speech they help expand our understanding of subjecthood, personhood, and consciousness. Subterranean Politics borrows its title from a phrase in Saidiya Hartman’s Scenes of Subjection: Terror, Slavery, and Self-Making in Nineteenth-Century America:
Here I do not mean to suggest that everyday practices were strategies of passive revolution but merely to emphasize that peregrinations, surreptitious appropriation, and moving about were central features of resistance or what could be described as the subterranean “politics” of the enslaved. (bold mine)
I’m interested in how black thought travels and is noted through mark-making that is both figurative and abstract. I'm struck by how black collage engages acts of the unconscious reformulation of the world through reversal, displacement, redaction (and how, as Christina Sharpe has written, black redaction can exist as an act of care). I’m interested in love, in its possibility in our world, and in what it takes to make it more possible.
For a gallery of opening night, go here.
(If you have photos of work in the exhibition, please tag #rjeldridge and #subterraneanpolitics)