PRINT March 2021

Lorraine O’Grady

Lorraine O’Grady, Landscape (Western Hemisphere), 2010/2011, HD video, black-and-white, sound, 18 minutes 4 seconds. © Lorraine O’Grady/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

“BOTH/AND” is the title of Lorraine O’Grady’s first major retrospective, curated by Catherine Morris and Aruna D’Souza and opening this month at the Brooklyn Museum in New York. But it is also the key to the artist’s exhilarating proposition: that the best path through the tepid “either/or” structure subtending Western hegemony is the cultivation of a hybrid and nonhierarchical “both/and” approach. “The governing aim of my work is to undermine the concept of opposites,” Lorraine O’Grady wrote in 1982; few artists have furnished such fruitful manifestations of their ideals.

On the occasion of this long-overdue presentation, Artforum reflects on the many achievements of an artist whose multivalent practice—incorporating everything from performance to writing to video and photocollage—has opened up avenues for diasporic thinking and fresh strategies for confronting anti-Blackness. CATHERINE DAMMAN takes the long view, assessing the full scope of O’Grady’s four-decade career, while artist and critic MIRA DAYAL provides a close read of her 1980/1994 Miscegenated Family Album. Finally, O’Grady herself gives an account of her Announcement of a New Persona (Performances to Come!), with an introduction by Artforum editor in chief DAVID VELASCO.