Deep Horizon. Dionne Lee and Richard-Jonathan Nelson.
In the first ever Spotlight exhibition, Dionne Lee and Richard-Jonathan Nelson investigate the complex relationship between Blackness and nature. Considering histories of violence, the African diaspora, and the perceptions and realities of identity, Lee and Nelson explore the anxieties and trauma associated with the American landscape, and navigate us towards a deeper understanding of who is allowed to benefit from natural environments.
The Black body has become, through years of outward cultural control, synonymous with both toil and the land, but barred from communing with it. This has left many communities to be defined in the American imagination as urban, and as such, dynamically public in their existence. Lee and Nelson stake a claim to the solitude of nature and its potential as a tool for liberation, while acknowledging that at the same time, being alone and Black in the woods means, historically and quite literally, to be at risk for danger. Their work poses the question, “How does the Black body make a home among the soil, grasslands, and foliage of this country under a net of oppression?” Ultimately, through video, photography, and installation, this exhibition provides a new cartography for the safe travel of Black bodies through the terrain of modern wilderness.