Atlanta Contemporary presents Yanique Norman’s suite of reconsiderations of official portraits of Presidential wives. Her work serves as a reclamation project – reimagining otherwise iconic images to reflect counter-narratives regarding blackness. Xerox paper is meticulously embellished with drawings and collaged with ink, steely graphite, shimmering gouache; she overpowers the existing picture with countless tiny African faces pluming out, rupturing the frame. The collages deal with privilege and nationalistic ideologies, pondering a decolonial future. Otherwise graceful women are swallowed up by the architecture they pose in. These spaces become insular constructed islands, places of fortification; difficult to enter, impossible to leave.
Responding to the unique context of Governors Island and the specific character of these houses, many participating artists will present work that speaks to the island’s changing identity over time – from its origins as Lenape land occupied by Native Americans of the Manhattan region to its role in the Revolutionary War, and later from its use by the US Army and Coast Guard to its current state as a site for artistic, scientific, and urban experimentation.