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“Surfaces of Projection”: Dell M. Hamilton on Performance Art and Black Embodiment

“I keep thinking about art-making for the sake of art-making for artists themselves, to take care of ourselves. It’s what helped me figure out how to exist in the world.”

in this episode

Caro Fowler speaks with Dell M. Hamilton, an interdisciplinary artist, scholar, writer, and independent curator. They discuss how Dell’s long affiliation with the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research at Harvard University shaped her perspective, and how she thinks about her artistic practice as a form of collage. Dell discusses the impact of literature and architectural spaces on her performances, including Blues\Blank\Black, a performance she presented in the galleries of the Clark Art Institute in November 2019. She reflects on the possibilities and limits of art to foment political change, particularly in light of social and institutional racism; and describes how performances can produce images of Black embodiment and in particular the violence and police brutality faced by Black women that otherwise goes unseen. 

Transcript

Dell M. Hamilton

Dell Marie Hamilton is an artist, scholar, and curator whose work uses the body to investigate the social and geopolitical constructions of memory, gender, history, and citizenship. With roots in Belize, Honduras, and the Caribbean, Dell frequently draws upon the personal experiences of her family and the folkloric traditions and histories of the region. She has exhibited at Panoply Performance Lab and the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts in New York, Rhode Island School of Design Museum, MIT, Boston University, Museum of Fine Arts and Institute of Contemporary Art, both in Boston, Salem State University, and in a group exhibition curated by María Magdalena Campos-Pons for the 13th Havana Biennial. 

This conversation was recorded on June 17, 2020.

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