Jenkins Johnson Gallery, New York will be presenting Say It Isn’t So…., the New York debut of critically acclaimed contemporary artist Kenyatta A. C. Hinkle. The exhibition features a variety of media, including drawings, paintings, text-based work, audio, and video. These pieces explore personal narratives from the artist intermingled with known and unknown historical figures in relationship to notions and constructions of the black female body as a prototype for both exotic beauty and repulsion.
On view will be work that reconstructs narratives of late 19th century and early 20th century West African ethnographic photography taken mainly by French colonialists. The photographs, which were heavily distributed throughout Europe as postcards and carte-de-visites, enforced the construction of the African (and black) female body as exotic and primitive. Through the embellishment of these photos, Hinkle uses the metaphor of disease to represent colonialism and the poetic interpretation of a virus entering the body. Hinkle interrogates the power dynamics between the gaze, the subject, and the viewer. Her drawings upon these photographs serve as a means to protect, not to consume, the women’s flesh.
Also on view will be Hinkle's body of work inspired by Maryse Condé's book " I,Tituba, Black Witch of Salem" (1992). Conde's historical fiction delves into the story of a woman of color who was a pivotal figure during the Salem Witch Trials. Hinkle is fascinated by how Conde’s reflections on Otherness, racism, gender, sexuality, Diaspora, cultural and religious hegemony, and love intermingle with her own experiences inhabiting a black and pregnant body for the first time. Accompanying this installation will be a collaborative score between
Hinkle and performer/composer Kevin Robinson. Say It Isn’t So includes brand new video work by Hinkle that will tackle concepts of endurance, vulnerability, racism, and the female body. Featuring imagery like the artists agape mouth for extended periods of time, recreating specific experiences of racism, and addressing the inhabitation and endurance of pregnancy, Hinkle takes her overarching themes and explorations of the black female body and the exotic into the realm of the performative.
Kenyatta Hinkle "Say It Isn't So..."
February 20 - April 5, 2014
Jenkins Johnson Gallery
521 West 26th St. 5th Floor
New York, NY