by Luiza Lukova
Nobody’s Fool, curated by art historian, cultural worker, and writer Ella Ray (she/they), opened at Carnation Contemporary on Saturday, October 23, 2021. The exhibition presents six contemporary artists whose work centers on each apex of the imagination of Black alternative realities. These realities depend on artists being afforded the opportunity to operate outside of racially charged and capitalistic systems. Weaving together a multitude of media, the pieces on view coalesce to map out a framework for working beyond their present conditions. No other field than that of the (canonical) visual arts is more historically (and precariously) steeped in the trope of the white (male) artist. There exists an inherent tension in acknowledging that tearing down this model and building a new one might not be the domain of museums and galleries as we currently understand them.
This writing was commissioned for and originally published by Oregon ArtsWatch November 4, 2021. It then appeared in CONDITIONS, a publication of The Ford Family Foundation. The annual arts journal (shifting title as it progresses) is part of the program element CRITICAL CONVERSATIONS, led by the University of Oregon with partners Portland State University, The Cooley Gallery, Reed College; and PNCA at Willamette University.
The title and concept for CONDITIONS came into focus as the editorial team launched its first issue, FIGURING. Here, we shift from FIGURING’s multiple perspectives on the body and the psyche to examine the cultural and biological mysteries and actualities of life at this tenuous environmental and socio-political moment. As our need for breath and sustenance are foregrounded across an accounting of our shared lives, we hope that CONDITIONS offers a space to meditate on the ways in which works of art (including writing) support us in making meaning from our state of, and provisions for, being.
Featured Contributors: Amelia Rina, Laura Butler Hughes, Luiza Lukova, Sara Krajewski, Malia Jensen, Lumi Tan, Steph Littlebird, Ido Radon, Alejandro Espinoza Galindo, Stephanie Gervais, Stephanie Snyder, K. Silem Mohammad, Prudence Roberts, Sara Jaffe.