Draft – Five videos and a newly commissioned work by Aria Dean
During six weeks, six exclusive videos by Aria Dean are published every Thursday. Each available for seven days only, the works will propose a panorama of Dean’s recent video work. This selection will culminate with a newly commissioned piece, published on April 30, on Aria Dean’s current project Bone Draft.
From May 7, 2020 on: Bone Draft, 2020
Dean’s video Bone Draft introduces a new entity in the artist’s sculptural and video practice. The short video is the first instance in an evolving process-driven series of works centering on a 3D animated proxy object that takes on the appearance of a kudzu vine, an invasive parasitic plant that grows rampantly in the Southeastern United States and looms large in popular imagination, appearing throughout Southern literature as well in post-apocalyptic imagery. Here, the vine flails in non-directional space, accompanied by a composition by composer Evan Zierk.
The vine’s movements are generated from motion capture data of the artist dancing, compressing Dean’s temporally successive movements into a singular time-space. The parasite’s life is dependent on the artist’s movement, but obfuscates its human origins.
The artist is converted into a non-human entity, mummified in her proxy, and modeling a weird affinity or porosity between artist-as-maker, artist-as-product, artist-as-subject and between the artwork as representational object and as a process itself.
Zierk’s composition–also titled Bone Draft–made in conversation with Dean, haunts the object’s already gothic presence. Beginning with Dean’s request to incorporate elements from Camille Saint Saëns’s Danse Macabre, Zierk uses intensive audio processing and manipulations, working with different arrangements of Danse Macabre, as well as midi-data of the piece itself as source material to produce music from the debris of other music. Much like the proxy object it envelopes, the composition compresses timeframes, here spanning the medieval, classical, and contemporary. The piece also, like the object, constitutes itself parasitically. “Even before materializing or becoming signal, the sonorous – sound – in order to be must leave a trace. Like a parasite, in order to exist it first of all needs a host.” (from The Order of Sounds by Francois Bonnet).
Aria Dean (b. 1993) is an artist, writer and curator based in New York and Los Angeles. She is Editor and Curator of Rhizome.. Dean’s writing has been featured in Texte zur Kunst, e-flux, Artforum, Art in America, Kaleidoscope and many other publications.
Dean will present a new play for The Hammer Museum’s 2020 Made in L.A. Biennial. In spring 2020, she will have present a solo exhibition with Greene Naftali (New York).
Bone Draft, 2020
Video by Aria Dean
Music: Bone Draft by Evan Zierk
Made with additional support from a Pioneer Works Tech Residency
March 19–25, 2020: Eulogy for a Black Mass, 2017
This narrated compilation overlays videos shared on social media with a voiceover that interrogates the structures that shape the meaning and perception of blackness. At the center of Dean’s investigation are online memes, which the artist compares to blackness, as they may be both understood as dynamic entities that circulate through networks, reflecting each other in their mutability.
March 26–April 1, 2020: (meta)models “I” is a crowd (demo), 2019
(meta)models “I” is a crowd (demo) references the visual language of hip-hop music videos. Dean considers the cinematic structure of such videos and its role in producing not only images of black subjects, but also a palpably black cinematic experience. She peels away the genre’s many iconographic and symbolic layers to map the structural relationships that fix the racialized subject.
April 2–8, 2020: A River Called Death, 2017
A River Called Death belongs to a body of works that focus on Mississippi’s Yazoo River and its surroundings—the birthplace of her paternal grandfather—as a means of exploring the real and imagined legacy of the American South. The video intercuts her own footage of the river with a jarring “censor bleep” and a subtitled fictional narrative about a ghostly man. With its disjointed juxtaposition of image, sound, and text, A River Called Death points to visual media’s complex role in articulating the conditions of blackness.
April 9–15, 2020: But as one… (rework, feat.), 2019
Bracing Dean’s practice is the enduring question of what constitutes an ontology of blackness. This question is rendered explicit in this video of densely edited crowd scenes, plucked from hip-hop and rap music videos and transferred to black and white. In these tightly sequenced, soundless videos, Dean approaches a kind of hip-hop structuralism in which moving-image assemblages magnify the peculiar ontological condition at hand.
April 16–29, 2020: Production for a Circle, 2019
In Production for a Circle, two young, fashionable couples convene for dinner and everything loses its shape. The four characters pass through a crisis of subjecthood, causing them to lose sight of themselves, of each other, and of the boundaries between them. This video is the documentation of the premiere of this piece, held in October 2019 at Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève.
All works courtesy of the artist and Chateau Shatto, Los Angeles