Danielle Dean’s solo show “True Red Ruin” consists of a two-channel video set above a display of multicolored cardboard cutouts, surrounded by drawings and sculptures used in their making. Simultaneously visceral and abstract, the installation explores black identity in relation to capitalism and colonialism through an uncanny superimposition of the histories of these two systems upon the present day.
Dean’s subject is Elmina Castle, the Portuguese trading post erected in 1482 in West Africa, which later became an infamous node in the Atlantic slave trade. The castle was also the first prefabricated European building to be constructed in sub-Saharan Africa (its numbered components were shipped from Portugal), a fact Dean emphasizes here through her employment of mass-produced materials. In True Red Ruin (Elmina Castle), 2017–18, for example, the choice of printed cardboard of the
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