Critics’ Picks

Kambui Olujimi, Killing Time, 2017, handcuffs, costume jewelry, 60 x 15".

Kambui Olujimi, Killing Time, 2017, handcuffs, costume jewelry, 60 x 15".


“unstable objects”

The Alice
6007 12th Avenue South
September 2–October 7, 2017

Inside the small but elegant space of the curatorial collective the Alice, this sharply curated group exhibition packs a powerful punch, launching a timely meditation on the material forms that structure immaterial notions of race, blackness, memory, and abstraction in American culture.

Installed between the highly reflective and extremely flat surfaces of Steffani Jemison’s and Zachary Fabri’s minimalist objects, Amina Ross’s salvaging and reinvention of decor from Chicago public schools slated for closing, and Martinez E-B’s installation of four teddy bears—evoking sidewalk memorials, set atop pedestals and fitted with protruding wax hands molded from family members mourning slain loved ones—contest conventions of monumentality, guardianship, and disappearance in tactile, worn things. Nearby, Kambui Olujimi’s Killing Time, 2017, composed of hanging handcuffs and costume jewelry, weaves together signs of conspicuous consumption, sexual fetishes, slavery, bling, and art-historical portraiture to produce a palpable set of ethical and historical entanglements.

But it’s Lisa Jarrett’s How Many Licks? II (Conditioned #13,763), 2017, that steals the show: In row upon row of cellophane-wrapped lollipops made from beet sugar, each containing a knotted ball of the artist’s hair, the modernist grid is repositioned as a stage where the sticky, consumable black female body and the precarious line between possession and dispossession are re/performed. This piece, like the exhibition as a whole, advances the aims of co-curators Kemi Adeyemi and Sampada Aranke as articulated in their statement, to investigate “trespassed boundaries between body/object, form/content, and visual/haptic.” Ultimately, the works ask exquisitely difficult and necessary questions about what it means to be rendered (il)legible.