previews

St. Louis

“Mark Bradford: Receive Calls on Your Cellphone from Jail”

Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis
3750 Washington Blvd.
May 6 - August 14

Curated by Jeffrey Uslip

The museum debut of Mark Bradford’s Receive Calls on Your Cellphone from Jail, 2013, an expansive installation of mixed-media paintings featuring text that evokes the roadside signage advertising bail bonds and the like, reflects on the rule that prohibits inmates from placing collect calls to cell phones. Originally mounted in 2013 as a set of 150 panels that covered all four walls of a nine-by-nine-by-nine-foot gallery at White Cube, London, the work will be reconceived for this occasion as a grid of thirty-eight panels on one wall, arranged in two horizontal rows in a sixty-foot span. This show thus extends the artist’s trenchant critiques of the built environment into the bleak landscape of the American prison complex. Representing less the jail cell’s infrastructure than its indignities—particularly that which circumscribes the daily experience of the incarcerated—it also, somewhat more than implicitly, critiques a system in which blacks are jailed at six times the rate of whites.