Brenna Youngblood

January 14, 2006 - April 12, 2006

close Brenna Youngblood
Strange Attractor

Mixed media. Installation at FRAC PACA, Marseilles.

Brenna Youngblood's photographic collages are drawn from her everyday life, broken apart and re-assembled. Figures, architecture, and decorative backdrops are fragmented, multiplied and layered to form dynamic, chaotic rhythms. Youngblood uses her own archive of photographic images and details, from which she pieces together mosaic-like versions of her environment and community. Police cars, storefronts, and people in the artist's life intertwine, conjuring up personal, social, and cultural situations that are sometimes sinister, sometimes humorous.

About the Exhibition

By Kianga Ford

Brenna Youngblood's is a whirlwind chronology that moves from straight portraiture to large-scale landscape collage in less than a couple of years. The images of Youngblood's family and friends, prominent in her earliest works, have receded over time and given way to what the artist articulates as issues of ethics and contemporary representation. In Youngblood's current work, these figures have been drawn into a narrative-driven landscape where subjectivity is implied, rather than exploited, in the architectural details and imagined horizons of her dystopic urban scenes.

If, as a very young photographer, Youngblood started with an interest in her family, friends, and friends' families, and in the architectural and interior details of their domestic lives—from the embroideries on their cabinets to the chairs in their living rooms—then, in this maturing body of new work, as she herself notes, "the people sort of became architecture."(1) In an intellectual double take, she returns to photography to reckon with the question of how one represents already saturated and disregarded figures. She lands front and center in the contemporary ethical struggle over "not using an iconographic image of a black man/black woman" in a medium best known for its capacity to render the body with compelling veracity and for its historical fetishization of just such bodies. More

(1) All quotations from Brenna Youngblood are from an interview with the author, November 2005.

(2) The artist of Conceptual Popstraction, a self-generated label, are Amir H. Fallah, Chris Grant, Nathan Mabry, Antonio Adriano Puleo, and Rob Thom. The artist published a book documenting their experiences and the work they produced as students in the UCLA graduate fine art program and participated in a group exhibition of the same title at cherrydelosreyes gallery in Los Angles; see Conceptual Popstraction ([Culver City, Calif.]: Beautiful/Decay, 2004).

Kianga Ford is an artist and scholar. She is a 2003 graduate of UCLA’s MFA program; a doctoral candidate in the History of Consciousness Program at the University of California, Santa Cruz; and an assistant professor in the Studio for Interrelated Media at Massachusetts College of Art.


Hammer Projects are made possible with support from The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, The Annenberg Foundation, Fox Entertainment Group's Arts Development Fee, the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, and members of the Hammer Circle.


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