Artist Features

Shaquille-Aaron Keith, Sharon Alexie, Gala Prudent, and Chase Hall

Shaquille-Aaron Keith

in Conversation with

Sharon Alexie

Gala Prudent

I believe black utopia is waiting for us behind a thin veil of radical imagination. This utopia can be recognized in the bliss of thinking, in the genius of making, and in the beauty of our work when it is unattached from rhetorics of capitalism and ownership. To inhabit a black utopia is to be an artist; to create for one’s self personal philosophies of sight; to make room in the world for dictionaries of our own design.

I am in love with images for the ways they can enact invention, intervention and imagination, even though pictures present themselves to us as facts. Pictures create dialectics of truth —inside the photograph is the distinctly real, experienced moment; on the surface, there is the marked, named, framed, perceived, and abstracted — each of which tells us that the photograph is untrue. Pictures prove to us not what happened when they were taken, but instead the potential of spectral, multiple, and subjective truth and the inability of language, or image, to adequately hold the world.

In this photo-lithograph, I am interested in the performance of the image. The print is born from a photo found on the internet, but as a lithograph, it can become a photograph that masquerades as a drawing, or a drawing that masquerades as a photograph. Without the weight of named processes, this image is really just a series of dots. Anything it becomes beyond that is a consequence of our looking and subsequent naming. The dot can reshape themselves without end, dancing around tropes of patterned spheres — basketball, head, and topographic globe become one another for a moment. The printed image itself, made up of tiny half-tone marks, alludes to the simultaneously immaterial and overflowing nature of black iconography.

This overflow is where my black utopia lives: with the knowledge that black can be nothing, everything, anything, and beyond.

Chase Hall

This piece is a sonic tethering of vocals that resonated with me in the wake of both my Grandfather and Great Grandmother passing. This piece was one of the first sound works I made and is a part of my first sound documentary I'm working on now. I am interested in the ways in which life lessons are shared vocally or witnessed within proximity to said event. I wanted to compile a document and sonic structure that relates to life, exploration and emotional spectrum.

These sounds are all recorded live via my phone throughout Los Angeles, New York, Minnesota and Omaha between 2014-2018. These recordings focus on grief, advice, faith (or lack of), The Gospel, surveillance and the perpetuated state of Black death. Pain is genetically and generationally transferred, compounding pressure on the next kin of Blackness, less and less likely to survive without personal healing and constant ancestral spirit. The work questions the devout belief in religious systems and oscillates between mutating into something more dark (or white) or macabre and returns back to the nearly impossible emotion and sound of endurance.

I compare my practice to Jazz or Rap music often and I find it vital to continue forming portraits of humanity through whateve device or medium possible. The sounds come from Funerals, West Adams, Family Members, The Subway, Road-trips, The Street and more. The entire project will traverse mostly America and parts of Europe. I want to create an unlearning process and further dissect the idea of word of mouth as a parental figure and the transformation of lore. Who tells you what, does it stick or does it leave immediately, does it form who you are becoming or have you already became? Does death break down the facade of personality and allow room for new emotions to surface? Our legacy and histories have been bastardized by erasure and violence I find it vital to continue archiving moments of voice that have challenged me as well as served as a catalyst for a deeper resonance with ideas of empathy and resilience.

These sound works I am making serve are oscilloscopes for life and sonic transformations of knowledge and experience. The most interesting and life altering people I have shared space with were on the street, taking up space, speaking their mind. The body language and spirit begins to be reciprocated and the life lessons continue to tumble. I just wait near the bottom of the hill to make sure they land safely and have the possibility be revisited. I am interested in excavating potent moments of life and these audio works serve as my initial investigation into our sonic world and how language continues to serve as a leading tool for articulating the unarticulable.

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