The Ford Foundation Gallery is pleased to present everything slackens in a wreck, curated by Andil Gosine. The metaphor of wreckage evokes colonialism and the destruction left in its wake, but it also echoes what the exhibition’s curator calls the “wrecking work” of marginalized peoples who answer this destruction with art that invents its own subversive forms of order, rendering alternate visions of existence, and co-existence, imaginable, and therefore possible. Featuring the work of four artists with a shared diasporic heritage, everything slackens in a wreck is the first show to appear in the Ford Foundation Gallery space since its closure in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The exhibition includes Margaret Chen (Jamaica/Canada), Andrea Chung (USA), Wendy Nanan (Trinidad and Tobago) and Kelly Sinnapah Mary (Guadeloupe). The four women share heritage in the indentureship program, which brought Asian migrants to the Americas and elsewhere to labor on plantations following the abolition of slavery. They also share a playful and disruptive approach to this history’s complex afterlife, through combining and reimagining artifacts and images associated with it. The exhibition highlights the ways their artistic processes echo their own and their families’ ongoing journeys of invention and reinvention, as complex identities merge and evolve. Using paint, papier-mâché and foraged items like wood and shells, the artists transform humble materials into intricate forms and hybrid creatures that are part plant and part human, linking the inherent creativity of the natural world to the adaptive practices migrants use to survive and thrive.
Accompanying these works will be Jahajee (Overture), a soundscape in the garden atrium created from sounds submitted by members of the New York-based community organization Jahajee Sisters, in response to the questions: What brings you joy? What brings you comfort?
Image caption: Kelly Sinnapah Mary, Notebook of No Return: Memories, 2022, Acrylic on canvas.