''I think my job is to somehow make them curious enough
Or persuade them by hook or crook
To get more aware of themselves and where they came from
And what they are into and what is already there
And just to bring it out
This is what compels me to compel them
And I will do it by whatever means necessary''- Nina Simone
This is what compels me to compel them is a group exhibition that asks: what in our inherited experiences can we conjure to form kinships through dislocation and displacement? The selected works are demonstrative of the urgent pull towards communal affinities, which resist the currency of death that enables our fixations and aspirations of ownership, above all.
What moves us to cultivate aesthetics that claim the remaining rhizomes of deracination as fertile ground for collective permutations? Esther Calixte-Bea, Clovis-Alexandre Desvarieux, Eddy F., Stanley Février, Glowzi, Anick Jasmin, Mallory Lowe, Schaël Marcéus, Oski, Stefani Saintonge, and Michaëlle Sergile share a critical curiosity: to converse and transform, rather than regurgitate, narratives of identity. Their visual formulations offer convergences of fantasy and reality that will us to enact ever-changing visions into being. The artists bring new light to tenuous threads of pasts, presents, and futures that we weave together to manifest ourselves as sovereign bodies.
As we live through the violence of actively needing to justify and fight for the recognition of our humanity, we shoulder miraculous work as purveyors and creators of our futures. Not in the least bit enamored with the power visibility affords, these works offer spaces to imbue ourselves with the visual, material, and cultural codes that establish commonalities between Black social experiences. This is what compels me to compel them took shape through cherishing the intimacy and unruliness that characterize the practices of the featured artists. They each have a unique propensity to unbind integral and transformative knowledges and experiences that we hold dear.
Untangling narratives that expand our definitions of freedom is relentless work, and yet by engaging with artistic practices devoted to materializing our desires, we are affirmed. While this work is arduous, it is also abundant and necessary to our world-making. This is what compels me to compel them is an offering— a reminder— of the innate poetics that make our longings possible.
- Josephine Denis