Samsøn is proud to present a solo exhibition of works by Hank Willis Thomas. Scouring the Earth for My Affinity will be on view from March 25 – May 7. There will be a closing artists’ reception May 6th from 6 to 8PM where the artist will be present to sign copies of his 1st monograph Pitch Blackness published by Aperture.
The exhibition title comes from a work on view where Willis Thomas balances the color of the Gold Dust Twins, a trademark found in most U.S. homes during the first half of the twentieth century. The twins, two African American children depicted cleaning the world, were featured in print and radio advertising for over sixty years.
PS1 Invited Hank Willis Thomas to produce work responding to the year 1969, a period marked with heavy socio political tumult. Scandalously Good uses a photo of Jackie Kennedy visiting James Earl Jones backstage after he portrayed Jack Jefferson in The Great White Hope.
Unbranded: Reflections in Black Corporate America, 1968-2008 is a series of photographs appropriated from magazine advertisements geared towards an African-American audience or feature black subjects. The project features two ads for every year from 1968, the year Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated, through 2008. By “unbranding” these advertisements the artist exposes what Roland Barthes refers to as “what-goes-without saying”. On view from this series are Petey Wheatstraw: The Devil’s Son in Law, Are You the Right Kind of Woman For It? and The French Way.
The Fair Warning series focuses on ads with African American women, Thomas juxtaposes these images with original copy: Believe It. By repurposing images and text and reconfiguring them in stark composition, Thomas uses the strategies of mass media to expose the inane language and the rote repetition of a romanticized body in space.
In sübSamsøn, Along the Way by ©ause Collective will be projected. Along the Way is a 20-minute video that includes over 1,500 videos taken by the artists featuring the people and places of Oakland, California and the surrounding Bay Area. This piece bears witness to a 9-month journey that the artists undertook among the people of the Bay Area. Upon arriving to Oakland, viewers are reminded that community is made up of a myriad of peoples. Individuals of different ages, races, and socio-economic backgrounds are depicted without being categorized. At times intensity, seriousness, humor or even lightness is evoked through a stare, grin or grimace. Along the way was commissioned by the Port of Oakland and is installed at the Oakland International Airport. ©ause Collective is Ryan Alexiev, Jessica Ingram, Bayete Ross Smith, Jorge Sanchez, Hank Willis Thomas plus affiliates, David Molina, Kambui Olujimi and Jim Ricks.
HANK WILLIS THOMAS received his BFA from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and his MFA in photography, along with an MA in visual criticism, from California College of the Arts in San Francisco. His work has been included in several publications including Reflections in Black (Norton, 2000), 25 under 25: Up-and-Coming American Photographers (CDS, 2003), 30 Americans (Rubell Family Collection, 2008). He is represented by Jack Shainman Gallery, (NYC, NY) and has exhibited in galleries and museums throughout the U.S. and abroad including Galerie Anne De Villepoix (Paris), the Goodman Gallery (Johannesburg), the Studio Museum in Harlem, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (San Francisco) and the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, CT. Thomas’ work is in several public collections including The Whitney Museum of American Art (NY, NY), the Brooklyn Museum (NY, NY), The High Museum of Art (Atlanta, GA) and the Museum of Fine Art (Houston, TX). His collaborative projects have been featured at the Sundance Film Festival, The Oakland Museum of California and the University of California, San Francisco. He is currently a Sheila Biddle Ford Foundation Fellow at the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University.
For more information, visit www.samsonprojects.com.