500 Jeffrey Gibson: Introduction
Hi, my name is Jeffery Gibson. I’m an artist and I live and work in the Hudson Valley.
This residency initially was a way to share my process with the public and I wasn’t sure what that would look like, I’m a very processed based artist. But it was interesting to see my family’s objects and to see how much they relate to what I am making and how much they’ve influenced me. So this series was the most direct to talk about something that you could wear. So there’s four nearly completed garments that will be on view, one that will continue to be a work in progress and then working with river cane basketry I’ve created three helmets that are wearable. And then part of the residency will be a pop up photo studio where invited people and members of the public can come in and we’ll invite them in to be photographed in the garments, in the space, and then those will rotate and those will become posters that will be posted on one of the walls in the space. Also in the space there will be objects from my parent’s collection on view.
I do have a history of having worked in North American collections, originally in my early 20s, in the Field Museum in Chicago. And I was always very impressed and inspired by the ways materials were used in mainly wearable garments of the late 19th and early 20th century. So there’s a ton of trade going on, there’s a lot of repurposing of western and European materials and objects, but they were being really situated within an indigenous context. And so today we look back at those objects and think of them almost as being traditional. But what I’m impressed with is the way that they were coming from another culture and suddenly just immediately being transformed into an indigenous material, through its use and its aesthetic and totally transformed. And I really saw that as a real, a powerful strategy for many nonwestern cultures to enact.
And so it wasn’t until maybe less than 10 years ago that I discovered the Anthropophagic Manifesto and when I read it, it was like reading something that was articulating all of these random thoughts in your head. And so I carried that with me in my mind and thinking about it, and I’ve talked about it numerous times, but I realize that is exactly what is happening here within the work that I’m making now, and the work that we’re showing here as part of this residency. And then it was just the term, anthropophagy, literally meaning cannibalism but then of course it becomes a metaphor and it was 19—I believe—28, was the manifesto. It was written by a group of surrealist artists. And it was very much talking about this way of cannibalizing kind of a cultural influence coming into one’s own culture. I think it’s still a really relevant, kind of strategic way of thinking about how cultures influence each other today.
Audio guide: ‘“Jeffrey Gibson: The Anthropophagic Effect”: Introduction,’ New Museum, New York, 2019.