Curated by Ed Leezon When: 7 September – 15 October 2017
Interested in eliminating a literal depiction of herself within her work to instead focus on a sense of self in relation to the representation of blackness within the contemporary canon of painting and portraiture, Jones produces corporeal objects that inform an expansive inquiry into the set of power structures and systems that have, in turn, provided a breeding ground for histories that are inextricably linked to contemporary attitudes regarding the roles of black individuals and communities. Her work aims to foreground the complexities at the centre of society’s reading of the black body – how it is understood, and how it is culturally reproduced.
In The Black In Their Face, Jones’ sculptures trace her relationship to colour, the human figure, and sexuality – all thematic tropes that stretch back through the history of the art object. In Jones’ care, however, a space is carved out that calls attention to a larger bracket of history, wherein the positionality and context of the object have particular implications. The problematic history of the treatment of African sculpture in Europe in the early 20th Century, and its subsequent embedding into the art history curriculum under the questionable rubric ‘Primitivism’, is one of many threads of discourse that come to mind. Image credit: Copyright belongs to Rachel Jones and The Residence Gallery