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Red Bull Arts Detroit opens summer artist residency exhibition
Kearra Amaya Goppee, Tutorials on Radiance (2018-2019), C-print on weathered steel. Installation view at Red Bull Arts Detroit's Summer Resident Artist Exhibition. Photo: Clare Gatto. Courtesy of Red Bull Arts Detroit.

DETROIT, MICH.- Red Bull Arts Detroit is presenting its second artist residency exhibition of the year, featuring new work created by Artists-in-Residence Pamela Council, Kearra Amaya Gopee and Claire Lachow during their three-month long, live-in residency. The exhibition opened to the public on July 19 as part of Detroit Art Week, and will remain on view through August 30.


KEARRA AMAYA GOPPEE traveled between their home country of Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica to explore a queerness that connects Caribbean bodies and landscapes. They print these images onto untreated aluminum sheets that will rust and degrade over time.

“These islands have thriving underground and public queer communities which has brought the question of visibility into play,” says Gopee. “With them in mind, I consider the questions that arise when we prioritize visibility: how valuable is visibility in our communities? What are the benefits of a queer body becoming legible in a region that is still struggling with traces of a colonial past which manifests itself in a hostile present for bodies deemed unnatural or antithetical to the projects of nationhood and tourism?”

Tutorials on Radiance (2018-2019) explores queerness beyond the physical body, extending to the lived environments of queer people in the Caribbean region. In this body of work, Gopee explores the boundaries of the 2D image in relation to queerness, portraiture and visibility. “Thus far, I have manifested this in a series of environmental portraits, where those imaged perform a calculated refusal of the lens, both in form and in gesture. Working in this way shifts the viewer's’ focus from the singularity of the oft (de)sexualized queer Caribbean body and allows for consideration of the elements that surround and subsequently constitute parts of their lived experience as well,” says Gopee. Accompanying Tutorials on Radiance is how to break a horizon: a memory as retold by the sum of its residue (2019), an installation that considers queer Caribbean futurity for its diaspora in the face of impending ecological and social collapse.


PAMELA COUNCIL creates her own materials to mix with store-bought accessories (hair beads, acrylic fingernails) in order to create shrines to self-celebration and comfort. A recent graduate of Columbia University, Council creates art riffing on Americana and Black Girl Magic—spinning trauma and history into humor, luxury, and pleasure.

During her time at the Red Bull Arts Detroit Artist Residency, Council has continued to develop her series of dancing fountains—kinetic sculptures that symbolize wealth and leisure while undercutting power. For the Resident Exhibition, the artist will present a new fountain that will become a part of her BLAXIDERMY Playland—an ongoing installation that combines her signature campy Afro-Americana aesthetic while alluding to narratives of the Crack Baby Generation. For example, the first component of BLAXIDERMY Playland is Red Drink: A BLAXIDERMY Juneteenth Offering, a colorful ten-foot-tall palm tree shaped fountain filled with 800 gallons of red creme soda. Other fountains in the series churn up “protective style” hair beads, Big Red soda, and Grape Drink.

Council’s latest work, BLAXIDERMY Pink, incorporates Lusters Pink Lotion, a classic Black American-owned and manufactured hair product, frequently used on little girls as they sit between their caretakers legs. Council states, “BLAXIDERMY Pink is a healing space and dedication to my 14 year old self. I am thanking them for the moment of clarity when they picked up their field hockey stick in self-defense to put a stop to the years of child abuse they experienced. I am offering them the hair product they knew best as a child, Luster's Pink Lotion, as a salve for protective styles. I am offering them ‘Relief’ tiles inspired by their favorite sneaker bottoms to thank them for walking away. With multiple fountains filled with Pink Lotion, a ‘cat's cradle’ installation using field hockey sticks as support, and silicone panels referencing sneaker outsoles, this fragrant and welcoming space is an offering of gratitude for tweenage resilience.”


CLAIRE LACHOW maneuvers between physical and digital environments, pulling material from Baroque art, video games, and memes. For the residency, Lachow is making a new video work responding to YouTube flat earth conspiracy theory videos. The video imagery is a dreamy montage of unusual geographic map projections, pop cultural references, and 3D modelled environments & objects that form and fall apart on the gridded plane of the 3D modelling software.

“Two-dimensional maps of the Earth inevitably distort certain areas. Cartography enacts the priorities of the powers making the map—the most commonly used map projections carry a colonial legacy, centering Europe and distorting the relative size of all land masses in comparison,” Lachow explains. “These images are re-presented as a kind of reality, both in daily use and as taught to children in school. In the same manner that the globe is mathematically split open and distorted to produce maps of the world, in CGI, all objects and bodies are reduced to essential shapes and splayed open in order to apply naturalistic textures from flat image files.”

In a new series of acrylic sculptures titled Skins, Lachow manually reconstitutes digital 3D models in physical space. Her process involves ripping the meshes and texture maps from digital models and printing them as flat images onto acrylic sheet. The artist then heat-molds the flat shapes by hand, attempting to re-create the form of the original digital 3D model. The resulting forms are imperfect and uncanny—vibrant, translucent shells that look like CGI apparitions, all surface and no substance. The digital composition and deconstruction of the same forms are then mirrored as animations on holographic LED fans. These objects represent organic matter and life forms such as flowers, fruit, and the human body—a gesture toward the nostalgic, Edenic manner in which pre-digital history is currently described.

Just as cartographic distortions reveal the ideological priorities of map makers, CGI—and the worlds created by CGI— naturalizes and enacts the assumptions of its makers. The short text Flat World attempts to locate these distortions. The text takes formal inspiration from YouTube flat earth conspiracy theory videos, which Lachow treats as a justified, if misguided, backlash against the attempted naturalization of ideologically constructed world-views. The lines of text are drawn from different sources—textbooks, instructional videos, and blog posts—that explain the mechanics of video game worlds. In this piece, the narrator presents a matter-of-fact, yet highly idiosyncratic, argument that describes “the world” in broad terms that veer back and forth from fantasy to relatability.

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