Ken Gonzales-Day: Shadowlands
January 19 through April 16, 2017
Ken Gonzales-Day is an interdisciplinary artist whose practice considers the historical construction of race. He supplements his photographs with research and writing that engage critically with history, art history, and Western conventions of race, blending historical tragedies with current events. Using photography and video, he explores trauma and resistance as experienced and embodied by racially oppressed populations in the U.S.
This exhibit will be a concise survey of the artist’s career, including works from the Erased Lynching, Searching for California Hang Trees, and Run Up series. His most recent work draws parallels between historical lynchings and high profile cases of police brutality affecting communities of color today. The core of the Run Up series is a cinematic restaging of the 1920 lynching of Charles Valento. Utilizing details drawn from the coroner’s report and his own archival research, Gonzales-Day chose to focus on this particular event in order to draw attention to the police presence at the scene that tacitly condoned the extralegal violence.
A survey of Gonzales-Day’s work brings up one of his most poignant questions: What is the difference between collective resistance and racially motivated violence? It is a question being asked after recent tragic events in cities around the country, such as Ferguson and Los Angeles, as well as St. Paul and Minneapolis. By presenting historical occurrences in conjunction with contemporary events Gonzales-Day collapses the historical distance and exposes the unchanging reality of racialized violence in the United States. Exploring the dichotomy between presence and absence, Gonzales-Day draws attention to the selective vision of American history and the perception of people of color as expendable. He combines scholarly research and a photo-journalistic sensibility with rich aesthetics to create jarringly haunting portraits of historical trauma present in both the people and the land of the United States.
- Minnesota Public Radio notes the exhibit’s examination of the “troubling connections to racially motivated violence today.”
- The Star Tribune says the artist’s “visceral” bodies of work “critically engage with our current moment.”
- Pioneer Press delves into the show’s “juxtaposition of old and new images…[looking] at racialized violence and how it’s evolved.“
- Read more about the inception of the project in an interview with Ken Gonzales-Day appearing in American Photographer magazine.
- Artforum‘s critic calls the work “a powerful and complex statement that challenges what we thought we knew about this country’s great dilemma.“
- Photograph magazine notes the timeliness of Gonzales-Day’s exploration of racialized violence in America, saying the exhibit “deftly compresses history and raises questions about our historic construction of race.”
(Unless otherwise stated, all programs are free and held at the Minnesota Museum of American Art, 141 E. 4th, St., St. Paul, MN 55101.)
Panel Discussion: Yasufumi Nakamori (Minneapolis Institute of Art), Chaun Webster (Ancestry Books), Taiyon Coleman (St. Kate’s), Alberto Justiniano (Teatro del Pueblo)
Sunday, March 26, 2 p.m.
George Latimer Central Library (Andy Boss Community Room), 90 W. 4th Street, St. Paul
Ken Gonzales-Day’s short film Run Up, which re-enacts the lynching of Charles Valento in 1920, will be the starting point for a lively conversation about the history of photography, racial violence, and absent narratives. Our panel of local scholars and experts includes, Yasufumi Nakamori (Curator of Photography & New Media, Mia), Chaun Webster (Poet), Taiyon Coleman (Assistant Professor, St. Catherine University), Alberto Justiniano (Artistic Director, Teatro del Pueblo). This event is co-presented by the M and the Saint Paul Public Library.
Artist Response: Leslie Barlow
Saturday, April 8, 1 p.m.
Artist Leslie Barlow will host an informal public gathering to talk about the relationship of images to social change.
The Reading Room
January 19 to April 16, 2017
For the duration of the show, the museum’s Materials Lab has been transformed into the Reading Room, filled with books, poetry, and digital media that further explore themes around racialized violence in America. This is a space for going deeper with the artwork of Ken Gonzales-Day and the issues it addresses; it’s a quiet place to process, reflect, and offer your own response. Reading Room resources are curated by Gonzales-Day; faculty in the Department of Chicano and Latino Studies at the University of Minnesota; poet, writer, and educator Sun Yung Shin; and the M staff. Take advantage of this space to come in and sit for a while. And if you have something to say, please add a comment to the “response wall” located within the Reading Room as well. We’re eager to hear your responses to the exhibit.
Ken Gonzales-Day: Shadowlands is curated by Christopher Atkins, Curator of Exhibitions and Public Programs at the M. The exhibit and all related programs are free and open to the public.