Danielle Dean

www.danielledean.art

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What Is My Work About?I grew up with my mother in a working-class town in England and only recently met my father who is Nigerian. The focus of my practice is to investigate capitalism and post-colonialism to question hegemonic social narratives. I collaborate with my family and friends as actors to explore the naturalization of ideology in our society. Working in video, performance, installation and drawing I use language from advertising, news and popular culture as material in a cut-up method, developing dialogues as assemblages. My work explores the potential for socially constructed narratives, such as racism, to be retold.

 

Artist Statement
My work stems from my experience of the political landscape that has largely articulated who I am. I grew up with my mother in a working class town in England and only recently met my father who is Nigerian. He was the son of a tribal leader who had 12 wives. Despite my father having gained a Masters in accountancy in Alabama, where I was born, he still remains a taxi driver in Houston, TX. The political in this narrative can be traced to colonial histories, and the focus of my practice is to investigate post-colonialism as a political space to question hegemonic social narratives. I am concerned with the imperialism of countries such as the U.K. and the U.S., which I approach through a critique of capitalism. I collaborate with real people in my life, using my family and friends as actors to explore the naturalization of ideology in our society.

Working in video, performance, installation and drawing I use language from advertising, news and popular culture as material. I use words from these sources in a cut-up method, developing dialogues as assemblages. The videos I make seek to clash with expectations: I try to frame how culture interpellates us into being through media, advertising and political speech, all of which are orientated around power structures. I am interested in how we are articulated in language in relation to what Stuart Hall calls “floating signifiers”: layers of meaning historically placed onto objects, people and places. These signifiers are separate from actual phenomena and have a potential to be rearranged – my work explores this potential for socially constructed narratives, such as racism, to be retold.

The video installation “No Lye” features a bathroom full of women of different ethnicities engaged in what appears to be the making of a bomb, while performing a script assembled from political speeches and adverts; David Cameron speaking on immigration is mixed with adverts found in Ebony magazine. Both these sources, the aspirational language of advertising and the contemporary politics of border control, draw rhetorically from neoliberal myths of capitalist freedom. This exclusionary rhetoric utilizes a binary rationale traceable to the Enlightenment: anything outside of this rationale is evil, over– or under-sexualised, different and feared. The relationship of the political language and the advertising spoken by these women portrays a rift between the women’s presence and the words they utter. This ‘in-between’ opens an uncertain potential: like the energy contained in a poison or a bomb.

The arbitrarily linked sentences and words deconstruct narrative flow and the assumed roles of the characters. As an ‘abstract material’, language can reveal problematic ideologies at the same time as it can reclaim the imagination of the viewer. I take queue from Brecht’s use of estrangement in theatre to alienate the audience from empathic feelings, which can shroud meaning in ideology.

“BabyGirl” was shot in Alief on the outskirts of Houston, TX, and is based on the narrative structure of a soap opera and Nollywood films. The piece moves through Houston into an empty apartment room in Alief where my sister, my father, and myself perform a scripted dialogue. The script is a montage of text from various sources including the film Baby Boy, CNN Africa and Radiohead. My sister and father rewrote parts of the script, which were montaged within the found text. In this work, I wanted to discuss the social and political issues that surround my sister growing up in an underprivileged area of Alief (‘the hood’), and my father’s relationship to America and Nigeria. By using found sources and our own words, a viewer can never settle and fully identify a character or naturalize the words. I wanted the work to resist encapsulating a finite identity for my family and their context, shifting the focus to the delivery of what was being said itself – with a space between the characters and the words.

CV
EDUCATION
2010 – 2012
MFA, California Institute of Arts, Valencia, CA
2003 – 2006
BFA (Honors), Central Saint Martins, London, UK
2002
Foundation studies, Central Saint Martins, London, UK

SOLO EXHIBITIONS
2012
“Confession on a Dance Floor,” The Bindery Projects, Minnesota, MN
“PTL (Part Time Lover),” Commonwealth and Council, Los Angeles, CA
“Baby Girl, No Lye,” CalArts Thesis Show, Valencia, CA

2011
“Heaven on Earth,” CalArts Thesis Show, Valencia, CA

2010
“Future Essence,” 198 Contemporary Arts and Learning @ 45, London, UK
“Future Essence,” Central Saint Martins Window Gallery, London, UK

GROUP EXHIBITIONS
2013
“Demolition Woman,” Guggenheim Gallery at Chapman University, Orange, CA
“Bluechip,” The Impermanent Collection, Los Angeles, CA

2012
“FTL (Full Time Lover),” CoLab, Art Platform, Los Angeles, CA
“Authenticity?,” Untitled Art Projects, Los Angeles, CA
“74 MINUTES,” Human Resources, Los Angeles, CA
“Los Angeles < 9811.81 km Vienna,” Atelier Sachlink, Vienna, Austria
“MMXII,” LA Mart, Los Angeles, CA

2011
“Tropical Lab,” LASALLE College of the Arts, Singapore
“Open Ending,” The Farley Building, Los Angeles, CA
“Womanhouse,” Main Gallery, CalArts, Valencia, CA
“The White Woman with the Brown Skin with a White Name with a Gun on a Horse,” Human Resources, Los Angeles, CA

2010
LuckyPDF, Episode 2, Auto Italia LIVE, Internet broadcast from London, UK
Yes Way 2, Auto Italia South East with Upset The Rhythm, London, UK
“No Soul For Sale,” Tate Modern, London, UK

2009
“Melrose Place,” James Taylor Gallery, London, UK
“Rob Pruitt’s Flea Market,” Tate Modern, London, UK
“Menu,” Savoy Café, London, UK
“Panda Malin-Head,” Auto Italia South East, London, UK
“If you could do anything, what would you do?” Home Live Art, London, UK
“Yes Way,” Auto Italia South East with Upset The Rhythm, London, UK

2008
“Epic,” Auto Italia South East, London, UK

2007
“For One Night Only,” Auto Italia South East, London, UK
“Celeste Art Prize,” The Old Truman Brewer, London, UK

2006
“Central St Martins Degree Show,” London, UK
“Peace Camp hosted by Bob & Roberta Smith,” Brick Lane Gallery, London, UK

2005
“Just Visiting,” Camberwell Arts Week Festival, London, UK

RESIDENCIES
2013
Whitney Independent Study Program, New York, NY

2012
Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Skowhegan, ME

2011
Tropical Lab, LASALLE College of the Arts residency and exhibition, Singapore

AWARDS/GRANTS
2013
Emdash Award, Frieze Foundation, Finalist

2012
Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture Full Scholarship
Interdisciplinary Project Grant / CalArts’ Provost Fund

2010
MFA CalArts Full Scholarship

2006
Awarded First for BFA (Honors) Fine Art, Central Saint Martins

2005
Celeste Art Prize, Finalist

PUBLICATIONS
2013
Demolition Women, catalogue, Commonwealth and Council, Los Angeles, CA

2012
Metta World Peace, edited by Heather O Brien, Los Angeles, CA
Monaco Magazine, Issue five, edited by Katie Guggenheim, London, UK

2011
Monaco Magazine, Printed Matter, Issue four, New York, NY

2010
Monaco Magazine, ICA, Issue two, London, UK

2009
Melrose Place, fanzine, London, UK
The Book of The Film, Donlon Books, edited by Jennifer Bailey, Publish and Be Damned, London, UK
Panda Malin-Head, Auto Italia South East, Exhibition catalogue, London, UK

REVIEWS
2012
Whitehot magazine, Danielle McCullough

2009
The Art Newspaper, Frieze Art Fair weekend, p5, London, UK