Sanford Biggers’ Matter collaborates with the cultural legacy of Fat Albert & The Cosby Kids (1972-84), an animated series created, produced, and hosted by Bill Cosby. Laocoon (Fat Albert)occupies the floor of David Castillo Gallery. The work is rendered in vinyl and lays partially deflated on his generous belly, arms at his sides, rump in the air, and head turned with one ear pressed to the earth. Like Laocoon’s multiple and often contradictory stories from classical literature, the present work speaks to death, character assassination, and a general loss in trust.
Another formidable artwork in Matter constitutes a mounted 10-foot quilt inscribed with the word “MATTER.” The quilt posits a direct connection to the Black Lives Matter movement. The quilt— itself sewn from several antique quilts that signal the role this medium played in antebellum folk art and in Underground Railroad communication networks— lends trans-historical perspective to #blacklivesmatter and the ways in which racism, nationalism, and capitalism have failed that mattering. The materiality of the quilt emphasizes the matter in mattering. Biggers reminds the viewer how terribly powerful it is to have a body, be embodied, be subjected to form. These works also remind us how terribly dangerous that subject-hood and subjectivity are, so intimate and intimately produced by bodies physical, historical, geographical, cultural, semiotic.
Sanford Biggers’ many solo exhibitions both nationally and internationally, include the Brooklyn Museum, SculptureCenter and MASS MoCA. Among his upcoming solo exhibitions are Subjective Cosmology at MOCAD, Detroit (2016) and Massimo de Carlo Gallery, Milan (2016) and group exhibitions including School of the Art Institute, Chicago’s 150th Anniversary Show and The Freedom Principle curated by Naomi Beckwith and Dieter Roelstraete, now traveling to the ICA Philadelphia (2016). Biggers will participate in a Conversations panel at Art Basel Miami Beach this December. His work has been included in venues worldwide including Tate Britain and Tate Modern in London, the Whitney Museum and Studio Museum in Harlem, and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, as well as institutions in China, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Poland and Russia. The artist’s works have been included in notable exhibitions such as: Prospect 1 New Orleans Biennial, Illuminations at the Tate Modern, Performa 07 in NY, The Whitney Biennial, and Freestyle at the Studio Museum in Harlem. His works are included in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, Walker Art Center, Whitney Museum, Brooklyn Museum and Bronx Museum, among many others.
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