Hyperallergic: Titus Kaphar and Ken Gonzales-Day Reveal the Fictions in Depictions


Cara Ober


In Gonzales-Day’s half of Unseen, elegant, oversized photos feature white classical marble statues, cropped and positioned against black backgrounds. The images subtly offer a commentary on the history of Western art, in contrast with the dominant narratives they were intended to represent. Some feature photos of statues in symbolic poses, like “America,” printed 2017 which depicts the nude female statue from behind, suggesting that she has turned her back on her people or that she has been distracted from her purpose.

Other works depict historic lynching photos, but the artist has Photoshopped the victim’s body out of the scene, leaving just a crowd of white people milling around a tree. The works are understated, and, next to Kaphar, and inside a marble institution, blend in like camouflage rather than demand your attention. In his talk earlier that evening, Gonzales-Day showed images of his photos displayed on giant billboards. Their power in a public environment, especially outside a museum, was immediate proving that context plays an essential role in the impact of his work.

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