At the beginning of the semester, the HALLE FÜR KUNST Steiermark offers special tours for lecturers on two dates (30.9. and 7.10.) at 4 pm. The current positions in the exhibition space reflect on social issues that have gained renewed urgency with the Black Lives Matter movement. With Doreen Garner and Kevin Jerome Everson, the artistic work of two African-American artists and thus the political discourse in the USA is the focus of attention.
The exhibition Recover features several short film works by artist and experimental filmmaker Kevin Jerome Everson that present unusual perspectives. On the one hand, they deal with the observation of the sky and with the phenomenon of the solar eclipse; on the other hand, the works negotiate questions of representation of different Black communities. The orientation reflects on the possibility of cognition, of seeing, not seeing, darkness and glare. Everson’s oeuvre becomes visible in its diversity, which at the same time makes it understandable how complex a conventional categorization of his works is. Everson is often received as an experimental filmmaker who works in a documentary manner and who provides supposedly “authentic” insights into the various lifeworlds of the African-American population. Author and university lecturer Michael Boyce Gillespie criticizes this as a simplification of what he understands terminologically as Black Cinema and Black Film. Beyond the documentary, Everson places a high value on the formal qualities of his works and also approaches abstraction, which in part places his films in the tradition of expanded cinema and allows them to emerge as radically autonomous works.
Several sculptural works by Doreen Garner are featured in the exhibition Steal, Kill and Destroy: A Thief Who Intended Them Maximum Harm, which addresses the problematic relationships between “race” and the medical system in the United States. In doing so, Garner has been working with Harriet A. Washington’s publication Medical Apartheid, in which the medical theorist historically chronicles the dehumanization and exploitation of the black body by medicine. Cruel experiments were carried out on the bodies of African slaves in the 19th century under the banner of medical progress. Doreen Garner uses an additive approach for her sculptures, with the help of which she combines various materials into synthetic body structures that resemble chunks of flesh or anthropomorphic fragments. These are partly made of silicone, polyurethane, fabrics, beads, hair, as well as crystals and show connections between Nouveau Réalisme and Pop Art. The degradation and objectification of black bodies is mercilessly depicted, while at the same time white bodies are clearly identified as those who caused this suffering. Garner’s sculptures allow for a reflection on how deeply colonialism and racism are rooted in social structures.