Another Justice: US is Them
For the Summer of 2022, the Parrish Art Museum invited Hank Willis Thomas (b. 1976, Plainfield, NJ), a conceptual artist working with themes related to identity, commodity, media, and popular culture, and For Freedoms–the artist coalition he co-founded with Eric Gottesman, Michelle Woo, and Wyatt Gallery with the mission to model and increase creative civic engagement, discourse, and direct action—to consider the Museum as a site for works that encourage new ways to experience art, architecture, landscape, and community. On view in the Parrish galleries, outdoors on the Museum grounds, and as digital billboards on the Shinnecock Monuments on Sunrise Highway, Another Justice: US is Them included nearly 30 works by 12 contemporary artists—many created specifically for the exhibition—in mixed media, sculpture, site-specific installation, wall painting, and photography.
Exhibited Artists: Zoë Buckman, Pamela Council, Jeremy Dennis, Jeffrey Gibson, Eric Gottesman, Christine Sun Kim, Muna Malik, Joiri Minaya, Koyoltzintli Miranda-Rivadeneira, Kambui Olujimi, Hank Willis Thomas, and Marie Watt
AT THE MUSEUM
Planned in conjunction with For Freedoms’ ongoing campaign, Another Justice: By Any Medium Necessary, the works on view were a call to the community to reconvene, and reconsider what justice can be in a time of imbalance. Together, they asked the viewer to imagine a just world. How do we get there from here? What is your role? Each artwork presented an immersion into that artist’s calibration towards justice.
Thomas and Olujimi took an expansive approach to this calibration, reconstructing iconic symbols such as the U.S. flag, prison uniforms, and portraits of presidential assassins. Buckman, Council, and Minaya applied an intimate lens, contrasting personal histories of labor, gender-based violence, and exoticization with brilliant colors, vibrant textiles, and dynamic patterns. Kim added an element of movement, speaking to visitors using notations to convey the motions of American Sign Language in an immersive mural. Gottesman asked how we reconcile the impact of the past, obscuring photographs of Indigenous appropriation, while Malik continued this prompt outdoors, inviting ideas from viewers on how to collectively travel towards a more just world in a human-scale origami boat.
Installed on the south-facing façade of the Museum is the 55-foot neon Remember Me (2022) by Hank Willis Thomas. The source material for Remember Me was a vintage postcard the artist discovered from the Amistad Center of Art and Culture at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Connecticut. On one side was a photo of a young Black man in a jacket and tie, holding a rifle, and wearing a hat associated with Buffalo Soldiers—the Black cavalry regiments formed by the U.S. Army in 1866. On the other side were the handwritten words, “Remember me.” The photograph references the overwhelming participation of African Americans in WWI. With this work, Hank Willis Thomas honors the many individuals who actively participate in society, but who are not often recognized or remembered.
Trained as a photographer, Hank Willis Thomas has always focused on framing and context in his work. In the galleries, he combines archival images with new or rarely used technical processes for, Remember Me (Amérique Forms in Space). Here, he uses the portrait of the Black American soldier featured on the same archival postcard from which he replicated the handwriting in the neon work Remember Me, and overlays it with a Lichtenstein-esque Pop Art U.S. flag. Viewers are prompted to shift their position or use a tool to see the work in its entirety. In both form and content, the work reveals the multiple ways to look at a given historical moment or subject. By activating this retroreflective work with a flash photograph, the viewer reveals the latent image, thereby stepping into the role of image-maker.
THE SHINNECOCK MONUMENTS
Expanding beyond the Museum walls, Indigenous artists activated the local Shinnecock Monuments throughout July, August, and September with digital billboards which engaged with the Land Back Movement and invited travelers to consider their own relationship to the land upon which we reside. Featured artists included Jeremy Dennis (Shinnecock), Jeffrey Gibson (Mississippi Choctaw-Cherokee), Koyoltzintli Miranda-Rivadeneira (Ecuadorian, Chi’xi), and Marie Watt (Seneca). Learn more about the monuments and local Land Back activism through the articles below.
The 62-foot-tall electronic billboards were erected by the Shinnecock along Sunrise Highway in 2019 to generate revenue for the Nation. Presenting the work of these artists on them is an effort to uplift Native voices and to model, on a small scale, the possibility for economic justice through creative investment. The four works on view invite the viewer to consider their own relationship to the land. In general, monuments serve as an extension of public civic spaces, signaling who we celebrate and which histories we collectively value. The activation of the Shinnecock Monuments in the context of this exhibition is an affirmation of these Indigenous voices through artist expression and civic discourse.
Works on the Shinnecock Monuments by Gibson, Miranda-Rivadeneira, and Watt are part of the recent Landback Public Art Initiative by For Freedoms, who asked over 20 Indigenous artists and allies the question “What does LANDBACK mean to you?”—inspiring reflections on the past and visions for the future. Artist responses, ranging from the literal to the imaginative, imposed this issue of Indigenous stewardship on the very land it addresses. Installed to coincide with Native American Heritage Month, the Landback initiative signified a convergence of Indigenous artists across tribal communities.
August 20, 2021 | Peconic Land Trust | PDF
August 5, 2021 | Jon Kuperschmid, The East Hampton Star | PDF
July 23, 2021 | Beth Young, East End Beacon | PDF
May 27, 2019 | Corey Kilgannon, New York Times | PDF
May 3, 2022 | Natalie Discenza, WSHU | PDF
November 26, 2020 | Walker Bragman & Mark Colangelo, Jacobin Magazine | PDF
January 14, 2020 | Dan’s Papers | PDF
January 16, 2020 | The East Hampton Star | PDF
ZOË BUCKMAN (b. 1985, Hackney, East London, UK) is a multi-disciplinary artist working in sculpture, installation, and photography, exploring themes of Feminism, mortality, and equality. Notable solo shows have included Nomi at Pippy Houldsworth Gallery, London, No Bleach Thick Enough, at Pippy Houldsworth Gallery, London, Heavy Rag at Fort Gansevoort Gallery New York, Let Her Rave at Gavlak Gallery Los Angeles, Imprison Her Soft Hand at Project for Empty Space, Newark; Every Curve at PAPILLION ART, Los Angeles; and Present Life at Garis & Hahn Gallery, New York.
Zoë Buckman’s embroidered works deal with interpersonal violence against women and the necessity for joy as an antidote to trauma. The intimacy and delicacy of her practice mirrors the domestic nature of the relationships she examines. Just as joy and horror live alongside one another in daily life, Buckman brings together unexpected pairings. Portraits and flowers are stitched alongside introspective quotes and delicate embroidery adorns boxing gloves. Embroidery itself is a deceptively violent undertaking, only as the artist pokes the needle through fabric and ruptures the surface can prismatic designs emerge. These new works are especially colorful and detailed, indicating intensive and solitary labor that makes possible the sense of exuberant joy and femme solidarity which bursts forth to painterly results.
PAMELA COUNCIL (b. 1986, Southampton, NY) lives and works in New York and Newark is an interdisciplinary artist who uses sculpture, architecture, writing, and performance to create multisensory dedications that both provide relief and prompt exuberance. These dedications – including Council’s iconic “fountains for Black joy” – upend the praxis of the static monument that demands the allegiance of passersby to, instead, serve as sites of deep care: their forms’ “high maintenance” calls viewers to an equally rigorous and cathartic tending of memory. Council coined the term BLAXIDERMY to describe their distinctive Afro-Americana camp aesthetic, which marries humor and horror in the exploration of material, cultural, and metaphysical inquiry.
Eastern Long Island native Pamela Council’s sculptures are dedicated to their personal, familial, and global histories. They celebrate survival and offer relief. Let Go Byes Be Go Byes//We Never Dreamt of Labor is built from factory conveyor belts and coated in brilliant car paint, seducing us to engage with this otherwise utilitarian object of labor. The conveyors point to manual labor while their arching forms upon the museum’s wall recall minimalist sculpture. Council’s Relief works are mosaic assemblages of prosthetic silicone tiles that carry relief designs sampling classic court sneaker outsoles, maps, and cultural artifacts. Using the Reebok factory texture library as a starting point, Council creates relief sculptures while seeking respite from a decades-long journey of being a sneakerhead that began as a child in the Hamptons in the 90s and ended with a summer spent working in Vietnamese footwear factories.
JEREMY DENNIS (b. 1990, Southampton, NY) is a contemporary fine art photographer and a tribal member of the Shinnecock Indian Nation. In his work, he explores indigenous identity, culture, and assimilation. Dennis received a 2016 Dreamstarter Grant from Running Strong for American Indian Youth to pursue On This Site, which uses photography to showcase significant Native American sites on Long Island. His work is in the Parrish Permanent Collection, and he was the 2018 Parrish Road Show artist. He was part of Art on the Grid by Public Art Fund in 2020. He lives on the Shinnecock Indian Reservation in Southampton, where he founded Ma’s House, a BIPOC artist residency.
Featured on the Shinnecock Monuments, Shinnecock artist Jeremy Dennis speaks to the ongoing Land Back effort on the East End in his piece Return Our Stolen Sacred Shinnecock Hills. “The Shinnecock Nation has been fighting for over 160 years to regain our stolen Shinnecock Hills. We have been waiting for any NYS Governor to recognize this injustice. Having our message on the Shinnecock Monuments as part of For Freedoms Land Back series represents the urgency of this unresolved matter.”
JEFFREY GIBSON (b. 1972, Colorado Springs, CO) is an interdisciplinary artist and a member of the Choctaw and Cherokee nations. His artworks reference various aesthetic and material histories rooted in Indigenous cultures of the Americas, and in modern and contemporary subcultures. Gibson’s work has been featured in exhibitions worldwide, including the 2019 Whitney Biennial, and is held in public and private collections, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Denver Art Museum; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and the Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco. In 2019, he was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship. He is a faculty member at Bard College and is based in Hudson, NY.
ERIC GOTTESMAN (b. 1976, Nashua, NH) is a Guggenheim Fellow, a Creative Capital Artist, a Fulbright Fellow, an Artadia awardee, and a co-founder of For Freedoms. His work addresses nationalism, migration, structural violence, history and intimate relations. His projects question accepted notions of power, engage communities in critical self-reflection, and propose models for repair. His work has been shown at health conferences, on the televised opening of the NFL season, inside government buildings, on indigenous reserves, inside post-war rubble and in museums like MoMA/PS1, the Johannesburg Art Gallery, MFA Boston, Houston Center of Photography, MoCA Cleveland, and the Addison Gallery of American Art. Teaching is integral to Gottesman’s art practice, and he is a mentor in the Arab Documentary Photography Program in Beirut, Lebanon.
Influenced by the debate around the future of Confederate monuments, Eric Gottesman interrogates, through researching archival photographs, what can be done with images of white people appropriating Indigeneity. In Stolen Properties I and II, Gottesman uses literal stolen fences to obscure historical reenactments of the Tercentenary Celebration and the Pound Ridge Massacre in Greenwich, CT, where white citizens dressed up as Native Siwanoy people. In Beneath the Surface, the wall protrudes to cover a cyanotype depicting William Merritt Chase’s son “dressed up as an Indian.” Including himself in this interrogation, the photograph being consumed by the artist’s daughter is of his own “Cowboys and Indians” themed 6th birthday party in 1982. Gottesman points to the need to examine the narratives which make up our personal and public histories, to reckon with our complicity in existing mythologies that justify stolen land, and to use our agency to build new futures.
CHRISTINE SUN KIM (b.1980, Orange County, CA) is an American artist based in Berlin. Working predominantly in drawing, performance, and video, Kim’s practice considers how sound operates in society, deconstructing the politics of sound, and exploring oral languages as social currency. Musical notation, written language, American Sign Language (ASL), and the use of the body are all recurring elements in her work. She further uses sound to explore her own relationship to verbal languages and her environment. She is represented by François Ghebaly Gallery in Los Angeles and White Space Beijing in Beijing.
Christine Sun Kim’s Oh My Oh Me was a site-specific wall painting with repeating notations that indicate “me” (with a finger) and “my” (with the palm of a hand) in American Sign Language (ASL). The two words are signed with the same motion but require a different handshape. The notations include motion lines as seen in comics; the bursts indicate the action of a finger or a palm hitting the chest, or in this case the surface of the Museum’s walls. For Kim, the immersive nature of this mural is essential. The viewer is surrounded by the experience and action of ASL. This contemplation of self (my; me) comes from the artist’s discovery of the term “narrative plentitude” coined by Pulitzer-Prize winning author Viet Thanh Nguyen.
MUNA MALIK (b. 1993, Sanaa, Yemen) is a multidisciplinary artist based in Los Angeles, CA. Her work has been featured in such exhibits and publications as The New York Times, LA Times, Vogue, Annenberg Center for Photography, ICP and the MOCA Geffen. Using painting, sculpture, and photography, her work explores abstract forms, including elements of gesture and biomorphism influenced by Arabic and Somali thought, the idea of liberation through movement, and the notion of ‘identity formation’. Her work has also been exhibited at Northern Spark Arts Festival, MCAD, Artworks Chicago, and The Humphrey School of Public Affairs.
Once hollow, Muna Malik’s outdoor sculpture, Blessing of the Boats, became filled with origami paper boats folded by visitors after responding to the prompt: “We have an opportunity to set sail towards a new future—what society would you build and how do we get there?” This meditation and the boat itself evoke travel across the globe as well as travel towards a more just world that we might all build together. That future requires us to reconcile the forced relocation of people in the past (the transatlantic slave trade), the present (migrant crises), and the future (climate refugees). How can the imagination of artists help to transgress our borders, real and imagined, so that we may all carry each other to safety?
JOIRI MINAYA (b. 1990, New York, NY) is a Dominican-United Statesian NY-based multi-disciplinary artist. She attended the Escuela Nacional de Artes Visuales (DR), the Chavón School of Design, and Parsons the New School for Design. She has recently received a Jerome Hill Fellowship, a NY Artadia award and the BRIC’s Colene Brown Art Prize, as well as grants from foundations like Nancy Graves, Rema Hort Mann, and the Joan Mitchell Foundation. She has participated in residencies at Skowhegan, Smack Mellon, Bronx Museum, Red Bull House of Art, LES Printshop, Socrates Sculpture Park, Art Omi, ISCP Vermont Studio Center, New Wave, and Silver Art Projects.
A key element of Joiri Minaya’s practice is the reclaiming of agency through landscape. In these digital photographic collages stemming from her Containers performances (2017), she samples patterns from found fabrics and wallpapers which feature motifs depicting tropical and North American landscapes and pairs them with female figures. “These women wear bodysuits adorned with tropical imagery, drawing attention to the contested connections between nature and femininity, idealized bodies, and the exoticization of the Caribbean female body,” stated Jade Powers, Curator of Contemporary Art, Harn Museum of Arts. Based on the instant when the performer takes off the bodysuit, a moment of shedding expectation, the act of removal here is one of liberation from the stereotypes and idealization of both the female body and landscape contained within.
KOYOLTZINTLI MIRANDA-RIVADENEIRA (b. 1983, New York City, NY) is an interdisciplinary artist, plant worker and educator living in New York. She grew up in the coast of Ecuador and the Andes, geographies that permeate in her work. She focuses on geopoetics, ancestral technologies, ritual and storytelling through collaborative processes and personal narratives. Intersectional theories, and earth-based healing informs her practice. Nominated for Prix Pictet in 2019, her work has been exhibited in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC, the United Nations, Aperture Foundation, and the Photographic Museum of Humanity. She has received the Photographic Fellowship at the Musee du Quai Branly in Paris and a NYFA Fellowship.
KAMBUI OLUJIMI (b. 1976, Brooklyn, NY) was born and raised in Bedford-Stuyvesant Brooklyn and received his MFA from Columbia University in New York City. Olujimi’s work challenges established modes of thinking that commonly function as “inevitabilities.” This pursuit takes shape through interdisciplinary bodies of work spanning sculpture, installation, photography, writing, video and performance. His works have premiered nationally at The Sundance Film Festival, Studio Museum in Harlem, Museum of Modern Art, New York, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles and Mass MoCA.
Kambui Olujimi’s Redshift is a series of monochromatic portraits of Americans who have attempted (some successfully) to assassinate presidents of the United States. Just as a “redshift” in physics describes the difference between the observed and the actual, Redshift examines how our culture of denying facts and rewriting history confirms the mythology of whiteness and distorts patterns of violence in our country’s history. Shootings by white assailants are seen as atypical, but they follow an undeniable pattern. We see this in the Unite the Right rally attacks in Charlottesville, the attempted kidnapping of Governor Gretchen Whitmer, and the riots to overturn the presidential election on January 6th, 2021. By the artist’s observation, the people who attack our government and ideals are often white and American; the threats come from within our borders. Olujimi believes that by not acknowledging this history and culture, we in fact perpetuate it. Here the artist presents a call to confront this “redshift” today and break these patterns in the future.
HANK WILLIS THOMAS (b. 1976, Plainfield, NJ) is a conceptual artist living and working in Brooklyn, NY. Solo exhibitions of his work have been featured at the Brooklyn Museum, NY, the Portland Art Museum, OR; California African American Museum, Los Angeles, CA; Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, among others. Thomas’ work is included in numerous public collections including the Museum of Modern Art, Guggenheim Museum, Whitney Museum, and Brooklyn Museum.
These new works by Hank Willis Thomas investigate the fabric of our nation—literally and figuratively—beginning with Thomas’ deconstruction of the fabrics of U.S. flags and prison uniforms. In drawing attention to the similarities in these materials, the artist reckons with the deep irony in the United States being represented by “the stars and bars” while having the highest prison population in the world. The work addresses an enduring, uniquely American question: “Can bars represent liberty while so many people are confined behind them?” Once deconstructed, the artist uses these textiles to form abstract designs and labyrinths of text, resulting in quilts that imbue their fabrics with new meaning. Referencing that the prison system is an extension of antebellum slavery, profiting from the exploitation of labor and the trading of Black bodies, Thomas embeds his own language within these charged materials, highlighting the significance across time and space of ideas such as “freedom.”
MARIE WATT (b. 1967, Seattle, WA) is a citizen of the Seneca Nation with German-Scot ancestry. Her interdisciplinary work draws from history, biography, Iroquois protofeminism, and Indigenous teachings; in it, she explores the intersection of history, community, and storytelling. Through collaborative actions she instigates multigenerational conversations to create a lens for understanding connectedness to place, one another, and the universe. In 2016 she was awarded an honorary doctorate from Willamette University. Selected collections include the Seattle Art Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Yale University Art Gallery, Crystal Bridges Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian.
PROGRAMS & RESOURCES
Another Justice: US is Them Opening Reception Panel
The Infinite Atlas | Another Justice: By Any Medium Necessary
Land Back Roundtable–Jeremy Dennis & Koyoltzintli Miranda-Rivadeneira
Hank Willis Thomas & Herzog & de Meuron Architects Panel
The Watermill Center
In an ongoing partnership with the Museum, The Watermill Center invited Thomas and For Freedoms for a residency from September 14 to October 7, 2022, as part of their Inga Maren Otto Fellowship for visual artists. During the residency and in collaboration with The Watermill Center and the Parrish, For Freedoms organized a series of public programs and Town Halls with members of the East End community.
About The Watermill Center
Founded in 1992 by avant-garde visionary Robert Wilson, The Watermill Center is an interdisciplinary laboratory for the arts and humanities, supporting young and emerging artists through its year-round Artist Residency Program and International Summer Program, as well as Education Programs, exhibitions and events open to the public. The Center’s facilities enable Artists-in-Residence to integrate resources from the humanities and research from the sciences into contemporary artistic practice. The Watermill Center offers tours throughout the year of its 20,000+ square-foot building, which houses a library and a significant collection.
ABOUT FOR FREEDOMS
FOR FREEDOMS is an artist collective that centers on art and creativity as a catalyst for transformative connection and collective liberation. By wielding the power of art, the group aims to deepen and expand its capacity to interrogate what is and imagine what could be. An art collective founded in 2016 by a coalition of artists, academics, and organizers—including Hank Willis Thomas, Eric Gottesman, Michelle Woo, and Wyatt Gallery—For Freedoms promotes infinite expansion through art, and is dedicated to awakening a culture of listening, healing, and justice. Visit forfreedoms.org to learn more.
Another Justice: US is Them was organized by Corinne Erni, Senior Curator of ArtsReach and Special Projects, with support from Brianna Hernández, Curatorial Fellow, and was co-curated by Hank Willis Thomas and Carly Fischer.
The exhibition was made possible, in part, thanks to the generous support of Katherine Farley and Jerry Speyer; Alexandra Stanton and Sam Natapoff; Miyoung Lee and Neil Simpkins; Sandy and Stephen Perlbinder; George Wells; Scott and Margot Ziegler; Nina Yankowitz; Caroline Hoffman; The Lumpkin-Boccuzzi Family; and Storm Ascher, Superposition Gallery.
We are also grateful to Ben Brown Fine Arts, London, Hong Kong, Palm Beach; Jack Shainman Gallery, New York; Pace LA; and Pippy Houldsworth Gallery, London for their in-kind support.
The Parrish Art Museum’s programs are made possible, in part, by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature, and by the property taxpayers from the Southampton School District and the Tuckahoe Common School District.