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“Installation #000000” at Track 16
August 1, 2020 - September 5, 2020(All times are in PDT)
In a two-person show at Track 16 in the Bendix Building downtown, Rakeem Cunningham and Clifford Prince King have each created photographic shrines that are poignant odes to Black individuality.
King’s shrine, titled “In Memory Of,” is a photographic collage of black and white Xerox prints that are wheat-pasted directly to the wall. The work includes photographs of Black individuals who have been victims of police brutality: George Floyd, Ahmaud Aubery, Elijah McClain, Michael Brown, Sandra Bland, and others.
Poetically, these images occupy the same space as photographs of figures who pose with modelesque musculature — these strong limbs are interwoven as pillars of vulnerability and strength. A single gold candle placed on the floor brings the black and white images into physicalized space, snapping the grainy grayscale images into the urgency of the present.
Cunningham’s alter takes a much more maximalist approach and is an amalgam of rainbow-hued props, printed photographs, anime characters, and household objects.
The shrine includes objects such as swaths of crunchy gold fabric, rainbow piñatas, bubblegum pink hair extensions, and yellow rubber gloves that have been used as props throughout Cunningham’s photographic work. Often, his photographs feature the artist himself, nude and unabashedly striking poses culled from fashion photoshoots. Here, these celebratory images mix with others that take a more violent and vulnerable turn — several picture a figure’s head wrapped in iridescent plastic.
Taken as a whole, Cunningham and King each represent the multitudinous Black experience, and how it is reflected in culture and media at large. In the press release, Cunningham asks, “How do we own the components that make us individuals and own the means of representation of ourselves?”