How do you begin to unburden an object bound to nothing when you too are tethered to nothingness? No body. No history. No landscape. How do you release it from the clamor of its own form? Do you encode it, burn it, drown it in the yazoo? This seems impossible given that you and the object have been given no option but to toe the line between art and artifact. Doing the most and the least at the same time while doing nothing at all. Why do objects speak and must they at all? The keystone is a farce because you are the cornerstone and the market was driven and is driven by you. In unburdening the object you lay yourself bare, but who will relieve you?
American Medium is pleased to present Baby is a Cool Machine, an exhibition of new works by artist, writer, and curator Aria Dean. In her first exhibition with the gallery - and her first solo exhibition - Dean hones in on her materially-driven examination of the situation of blackness in the United States. Baby is a Cool Machine binds this study to an interrogation of objects-for-themselves. For Dean, these two situations - that of blackness and that of the art object’s status - are irrevocably entangled.
To this end, Baby is a Cool Machine abstractly excavates Dean’s own family history, approaching by way of the landscape of the American South and its mythologies. She considers the particularity of this history and its entanglement in a shared and genericized historical narrative, continuing her interest in the multiple valences of identification, experience, and the (im)balance of the individual and the collective, of the continuous and the discrete.
Dean simultaneously deconstructs, dissects, and discredits the materials that she employs, beseeching her audiences to pursue more from what is presented to them, creating works that rebuke their previously encoded meaning and their own virality, drawing out and exploiting the weak bonds of language and signs, and redistributing the weight of materialism.
Text by Hanna Girma
Aria Dean is an artist, writer, and curator based in Los Angeles, CA. She currently holds the position of assistant curator of net art & digital culture at Rhizome. Her writing has been featured in Artforum, Art in America, The New Inquiry, Real Life Magazine, Topical Cream Magazine, Mousse Magazine, CURA Magazine, and X-TRA Contemporary Art Quarterly. She has exhibited at Arcadia Missa (London), Knockdown Center (NY), and Chateau Shatto (LA) among other venues. Dean has spoken at the New Museum, UCLA, The New School, and Machine Project. She also co-directs Los Angeles project space As It Stands LA.