If you are traveling to, or are in the city, Fotografiska New York, in the Flatiron District of New York City, has a must-see show.
Infamous, a solo exhibition by renowned artist Andres Serrano, will be on view at the museum through March 14, 2021
Infamous is a visual exploration of the long history of deeply-rooted racism in the United States. Throughout his career, Serrano has directly confronted popular culture with provocative work. In this exhibition of over 30 photographs of racist artifacts, he continues to hold a mirror to the nation’s not too distant, dark past.
Andres Serrano first became internationally known for his image Piss Christ (1987), a now-infamous photograph of a plastic crucifix submerged in the artist’s urine. Though not intended to shock, Serrano’s art brings together spirituality with physicality in a way that has garnered the artist considerable controversy. His photographs seek to portray the most compelling subject matter in a technically polished manner that eliminates extraneous elements.
Serrano has been the subject of several monographs, including one accompanying a retrospective exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia. His artist’s works are held in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Malmö Konsthall in Sweden, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C., among others. He lives and works in New York City.
The exhibition text will be authored by Hamza Walker, Director of LAXART– an independent nonprofit art space in Los Angeles. Walker is a leading curator and expert in the field of contemporary art with over 20 years of experience. In his text, Walker introduces artist Andres Serrano as “an unabashed image-maker” who has photographed “people, places and things from which most of us would rather turn away, whether out of shame, disgust or outright offense.”
Further in the text, Walker contextualizes the history of the race-based and racist memorabilia photographed for Infamous and asks viewers to consider to what extent white supremacy is sewn into the socio-political fabric of today.
While Serrano is none too shy in deploying such hyperbole, in this instance it is offset by photographs of postcards and canned goods, sheet music and rag dolls, a box of nails and a bottle of gin, all reminders of blackface’s journey from stage and screen entertainment to its wholesale proliferation in the form and package design of countless everyday products. And while we want to relegate them to the dustbin of history-come-again as eBay, we need only look to the recent mea culpa issued by Prada and Gucci to realize those products still have purchase on our present.
In 2019, Andres Serrano began buying and photographing objects with a sense of infamy attached. Serrano acquired KKK hoods, consumer products depicting caricatures of Black people, violent documentary photographs, and more, most of which were previously owned and purchased directly from the homes of Americans. By creating a visual catalog of evidence that includes reductive and virulent portrayals of Black Americans, the artist challenges viewers to confront the country’s racist history and consider its influence on culture and society today.
“Infamous is an excavation into Man’s inglorious past,” says Andres Serrano. “Seen through objects and images that paint a disturbing picture, it’s an exhibition imbued with the patina of tainted history. They tell the story of infamy with varying degrees of bigotry and insensitivity. Although we want to believe that ‘what happened in the past stays in the past’ history proves us wrong. As someone who is not white, I didn’t need anyone to tell me there’s a great divide between white people and everyone else. I was born with outrage.”
This exhibition raises many tough questions and opportunities for deeper understanding and dialogue. The museum will support these conversations through programming with organizations including the National Coalition Against Censorship to further explore the topics including censorship, racism and racial justice, and the impact of these issues on society and culture today. The full programming lineup will be announced later this month.
Fotografiska New York will also continue to partner with Black Artist Fund (BAF) to support their mission of providing money directly to Black artists to combat systemic inequity in art.
“The difficult history of racism in the United States presented in these works will be supported by programming throughout the duration of the exhibition,” says Amanda Hajjar, Director of Exhibitions for Fotografiska New York. “At Fotografiska, we are committed to our mission to inspire a more conscious world, and we believe Andres’ work sheds an important perspective on our past, which will lead to tough, but hopefully productive and relevant conversations of where we go from here.”
The gallery’s website is listed below this post.
Image of Serrano’s work entitled Infamous thanks to Fotografiska New York