Kevin Beasley ( American, 1985 )
Working between the disciplines of sound, sculpture, and performance, Kevin Beasley explores identity and representation through objects in the broader context of their cultural production. His sculptures function as narrative vessels embedded with cultural, personal, and political significance. Using clothing cast with epoxy resin—house-dresses, hoodies, scarves, Nike shoes—Beasley contemplates ubiquitous symbols of consumerism and their relationship to identity. In many respects, Beasley casts such objects to slow down time, allowing for closer inspection to analyze the commodity of the products and their impact on our society. Untitled (Sahara) is a continuation of Beasley’s wall-mounted sculptural practice. Formed with a variety of clothing that Beasley sources from markets in Queens and in Harlem, the assemblage of fabrics are cast as a ghostly grouping of clothing lacking its wearer. Unambiguously evoking the visual of a veil, hoodie or hijab the sculpture signposts what remains a topic of controversy and misunderstanding among many. The hoodie became a politically charged symbol of racial tension in America following serial acts of violence on black youths wearing such clothing, drawing similar comparison to the debates regarding Muslim women’s dress. By using clothing to bring to mind the image of the hijab and hoodie, Beasley points to questions of basic human rights that cut across divisions of religion, culture, class and history.