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Yankee Remix, Remix
Artists Take on New England
July 23 - September 4, 2004
Reception: Friday, July 23, 7 - 9 pm
Curator's Talk: Saturday, July 24 @ Noon
(gallery closed August 21 - 28)

Lorna Simpson

Born in Brooklyn in 1960, lives in Brooklyn.
Corridor (Structures), Corridor (Day), Corridor (Phone), Corridor (Mirror), Corridor (Night)

Digital Production stills from film Corridor (2003)
Commissioned by MASS MoCA and SPNEA for Yankee Remix
Courtesy of the artist and Sean Kelly Gallery

Lorna Simpson made a pair of films, shown side by side, for the original Yankee Remix . Both are shot in interiors of houses in SPNEA’s collection (on the left is the 17th-century Coffin House; on the right is the 20th-century Gropius House) and both have only one character, played by Wangeshi Mutu. Mutu’s character, a young and beautiful black woman, carries out everyday tasks appropriate to the periods that the two interiors represent. Similarly, she wears period-appropriate clothing.
For Yankee Remix/Remix Simpson has taken stills from the films and produced paired images that are presented side by side. The photographic images are strangely hermetic. They seem not so much suspenseful (Simpson has cited film noir as an inspiration for earlier films) as suspended in time. In this they share more with the 17th-century Dutch painter Jan Vermeer, who frequently painted women alone engaged in solitary domestic pursuits, than with Alfred Hitchcock. Like Vermeer, Simpson offers us a portrait of a woman who is psychologically removed from us; she is distant and unavailable, even though every detail of her physical person and environment is rendered with Vermeer’s Dutch clarity.
In 2002, curator Thelma Golden asked Simpson how she felt about making work in which the presence of the black body is consistently placed in the foreground. Simpson replied: “Given the generation that I was brought up in, and given the way in which that affects how I see things now, I cannot take that presence for granted. The moment I take that presence for granted, the dominant image will quickly return to a kind of monolithic, non-ethnic depiction.” Even though none of the things the character in Simpson’s Yankee Remix project does are specific to her race (what might such things be, anyway?) the fact of her race is as integral to the work as her sex, her era, her unknowable but certain psychological complexity, her humanity.

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