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Danielle Dean

Born 1982 in Huntsville, Alabama

Danielle Dean creates videos that unravel language in an effort to examine culture, forcing the viewer to connect seemingly disparate phrases and disjointed conversations. Echoing her videos, Dean’s installations often contain fragments of a whole—implications of scenes, pieces of furniture, some commercial products, or an empty stage. Dean is interested in using these fragments to draw out the effects of colonialism on the cultivation of identity. Born in the United States but raised in England, she processes the values and peculiarities of our culture as an outsider by quoting advertising, news media, film, and music.

The characters in Dean’s work speak using partial quotations from politicians, commercials, and popular texts to defy the viewer’s attempts to make sense of a story. Conversations become largely abstract, forcing the audience to take meaning from the tone of voice, as if from a foreign language. Working in tandem with Dean’s use of fragmented language, mundane fashion products are recast as ominous markers of revolution and ruin—beauty products are used to make bombs and athletic shoes become markers of identity. By examining the images and social cues respected at different cultural levels, Dean puts a sharp focus on the material values socially engendered in us all.