"The Brand New Heavies"
Wed Feb 25 2009
Time Out Ratings :<strong>Rating: </strong>4/5
This three-person show curated by Mickalene Thomas focuses on images of black women and the cultural assumptions that often burden them. Whether these misconceptions involve sexuality, education or the roles that women play in the African-American community, the strongest works here try to challenge those fallacies by juxtaposing the familiar with the unexpected.
Deana Lawson’s Anna is a meditation on age, beauty and wisdom. An older African-American woman is pictured on an overstuffed couch, her skin both smooth and hanging slightly. The opulence of the furniture creates a strange contrasts with her thin body, and her nails are unexpectedly large, almost grotesque. The marriage of these details with the subject’s straightforward gaze activates a push and pull with the viewer.
Jessica Ann Peavy’s video, The Adventures of Yvette Jones, undermines classic ’70s blaxploitation conventions with the banalities of everyday life. The screen is divided into a nine frames, each running a segment of the titular movie, which shows the female protagonist doing everything from cooking to smoking to fucking. One clip repeats the indistinct back of a man engaged in the latter with our heroine, with an attendant sound effect that bears uncomfortable resemblance to an animal scratching the floorboards.
Using Barbies and stop-motion animation, Lauren Kelley’s Get Bones from 88 Jones chronicles the unhappy tale of a girl getting played by a guy. While neither the story line or the animation style are entirely original, the film’s violent denouement is surprisingly effective, and the simplicity of Kelley’s approach conveys heartbreak in a refreshingly honest way. —T.J. Carlin
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