Sondra Perry at Serpentine Galleries

Artist: Sondra Perry

Exhibition title: Typhoon coming on

Venue: Serpentine Galleries, Serpentine Sackler Gallery, London, UK

Date: March 6 – May 20, 2018

Photography: All photographs copyright and courtesy the artist and ©Serpentine Galleries, London

‘When making a piece I want people to feel like they have space and agency’
-Sondra Perry

This spring, the Serpentine presents the first European solo exhibition of American artist Sondra Perry (b. 1986, Perth Amboy, New Jersey), who explores the intersection of black identity, digital culture and power structures through video, media, installation and performance.

Perry makes work about blackness, black femininity and African American heritage, often taking her personal history as a point of departure. Her use of digital tools and material, ranging from blue screen technology and 3D avatars to found footage from the internet, reflects on these modes of representation and the abstraction of black identity in art and media. Perry has said: ‘I’m interested in thinking about how blackness shifts, morphs, and embodies technology to combat oppression and surveillance throughout the diaspora. Blackness is agile.’

This exhibition continues the Serpentine’s engagement with Perry’s practice, following her acclaimed performance for Park Nights 2016, where she shared a billing with the American poets Fred Moten and Eileen Myles.

Perry is committed to net neutrality and ideas of collective production and action, using open source software to edit her work and leasing it digitally for use in galleries and classrooms, while also making all her videos available for free online. This principle of open access in Perry’s practice aims to privilege black life, to democratise access to art and culture, and to offer a critical platform that differentiates itself from the portrayal of blackness in the media. With viral imagery of black deaths in the US both sensationalised and the subject of widely disseminated memes, Perry wants to (re-)claim this digital space by foregrounding the use of technologies in her work.

This new site-specific installation at the Serpentine Sackler Gallery will incorporate existing works by Perry, including Graft and Ash for a Three-Monitor Workstation (2016), a 3-D avatar of the artist questioning the current productivity and efficiency culture, and Wet and Wavy Looks – Typhoon coming on (2016), which both references and digitally alters JMW Turner’s 1840 painting, The Slave Ship.

‘Perry’s aim is to give agency to the black meme, imbuing it with a radical purpose that no longer infects just the internet but physical space.’ Bomb Magazine, 2017

Perry’s works can be viewed here: http://sondraperry.com/

Sondra Perry is an interdisciplinary artist who works with video, computer- based media and performance to explore the digital abstraction of identity. She holds an MFA from Columbia University, a BFA from Alfred University, and is currently based in Houston, Texas as part of the artist-in-residence programme CORE at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

Recent solo exhibitions include flesh out, at Squeaky Wheel Film and Media Art Center in Buffalo, New York (2017); and Resident Evil at The Kitchen, New York (2016) and the Institute for New Connotative Action (2017). In 2015, the artist’s work appeared in the fourth iteration of the Greater New York exhibition at MoMA/PS1. Other exhibitions include Disguise: Masks and Global African Art, Seattle Art Museum, Seattle (2015), which travelled to Fowler Museum at UCLA, Los Angeles, (2015) and Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn (2016); A Curious Blindness, Miriam & Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery, New York (2015); Of Present Bodies, Arlington Arts Center, Arlington (2014); and Young, Gifted, & Black: Transforming Visual Media, The Camera Club of New York (2012). She performed Sondra Perry & Associate Make Pancakes and Shame the Devil at the Artist’s Institute, New York, in 2015.

Perry’s video work has been screened at Tribeca Cinemas in New York, Les Voutes in Paris, France, LuXun Academy of Fine Arts Museum in Shenyang, China, and at the LOOP Barcelona Media Arts Festival.

Sondra Perry, Installation view, Typhoon coming on, Serpentine Sackler Gallery, London (6 March – 20 May 2018) © 2018 Mike Din

Sondra Perry, Installation view, Typhoon coming on, Serpentine Sackler Gallery, London (6 March – 20 May 2018) © 2018 Mike Din

Sondra Perry, Installation view, Typhoon coming on, Serpentine Sackler Gallery, London (6 March – 20 May 2018) © 2018 Mike Din

Sondra Perry, Installation view, Typhoon coming on, Serpentine Sackler Gallery, London (6 March – 20 May 2018) © 2018 Mike Din

Sondra Perry, Installation view, Typhoon coming on, Serpentine Sackler Gallery, London (6 March – 20 May 2018) © 2018 Mike Din

Sondra Perry, Installation view, Typhoon coming on, Serpentine Sackler Gallery, London (6 March – 20 May 2018) © 2018 Mike Din

Sondra Perry, Installation view, Typhoon coming on, Serpentine Sackler Gallery, London (6 March – 20 May 2018) © 2018 Mike Din

Sondra Perry, Installation view, Typhoon coming on, Serpentine Sackler Gallery, London (6 March – 20 May 2018) © 2018 Mike Din

Sondra Perry, Installation view, Typhoon coming on, Serpentine Sackler Gallery, London (6 March – 20 May 2018) © 2018 Mike Din

Sondra Perry, Graft and Ash for a Three Monitor Workstation (Still), 2016. Courtesy of the artist

Sondra Perry, Graft and Ash for a Three Monitor Workstation (Still), 2016. Courtesy of the artist

Sondra Perry, Graft and Ash for a Three Monitor Workstation (Still), 2016. Courtesy of the artist

Sondra Perry, Graft and Ash for a Three Monitor Workstation, 2016, Video, bicycle workstation, 9:05 min. © Sondra Perry

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