Allana Clarke West Indies, b. 1987

Overview

“I need to feel human again. I need to orient myself towards futurity; towards a future where Black bodies can be articulated in a way they’ve never been before. My practice is the process of that.”

- Allana Clarke

Allana Clarke is a Trinidadian-American artist whose practice is built upon a foundation of uncertainty, curiosity, a will to heal, and an insistence upon freedom. Fluidly moving through video, performance, sculpture, and text, her research-based practice incorporates sociopolitical and art historical texts, to contend with ideas of Blackness, the binding nature of bodily signification, and the possibility to create non-totalizing identifying structures.

 

Clarke’s latest body of work expresses struggle and ritualistic transformation through sculptures made from hair bonding glue, a liquid latex commonly used to adhere hair extensions onto a person’s scalp.

 

Clarke refers to her first interactions with hair bonding glue as a child as “rituals indoctrinating me into a world that is anti-Black.” Clarke begins her sculptural process by pouring the hair bonding glue onto flat panels. The bonding glue cures from the top, remaining supple underneath for days or weeks. During that time, Clarke manipulates the material by scraping, pulling, twisting, and pushing into it with her entire body. The performative process manifests in a sculptural relic of the artist literally grappling with her complicated relationship with her medium.

 

Clarke received her MFA in Interdisciplinary Practice from MICA’s Mount Royal School of Art in 2014, and has been an artist in residence at the Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture, Vermont Studio Center, Lighthouse Works, and Yaddo. She is currently a 2020 NXTHVN fellow and an assistant professor at Wayne State University in Detroit. Recent exhibitions include Realms of Refuge, Kavi Gupta, Chicago, IL; Wrecked Alphabet, Broodthaers Society of America, Harlem, NY; Indoor Outposts, FRAC des Pays de la Loire, Nantes, France and Spiral/Recoil, Delaware Center for Contemporary Art, Wilmington, DE.

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