In Sondra Perry’s first solo exhibition at Bridget Donahue, the linked subjects of representation and ownership are taken to task. The gallery, with all walls painted “Rosco Chroma Key blue”, is sparsely inhabited by a few black metal structures and one projected video, a stark arrangement that focuses the viewer’s attention tightly on the few elements there.
The metal structures, which vaguely resemble bent out of shape paperclips, are “Spalding Universal Shot Trainers” – a specialized piece of sports equipment used for finessing basketball freethrow technique. Each of these Spalding Trainers have a small monitor added to their bulk. These monitors are equipped with privacy filters so that the content playing on the screen is only visible when standing directly in front of the screen. When viewed from the proper angle, disconcerting shots of the interior of a digital human mouth are seen on the monitors.
These disparate elements of sports, digitally rendered humans, and chroma key rooms all come together in Perry’s projected video work, IT’S IN THE GAME ’17 or Mirror Gag for Vitrine and Projection. Opening with a series of family photos that are soundtracked with a chopped and screwed version of the Styltistics’ 1971 track, “You Are Everything”, IT’S… tells the story of Perry’s twin brother, Sandy, whose likeness was non-consensually licensed by the NCAA to EA Sports. Mixed in with shots from the videogame in which Sandy Perry’s likeness was used is footage of both Sondra and Sandy visiting the British Museum and the MET Museum. As they browse through exhibits of nonwestern cultures, they both take photographs of the artifacts. Images of these objects later appear as 3D renders – their 3D skins colored with the ever-familiar chroma key blue. The act of photographing and re-presenting takes on various modes of agency and power relations, exploring the fluid space of digital consumption and production, and the all-too-human bodies and objects that underwrite this process.
IT’S… ends with The Stylistic’s “You Are Everything” playing again, however this time it is the original version of the song, another twist on the thematics and subject matter presented. Perry’s video work considers instances of bodies, songs, and objects being taken from their origin source and forcefully re-contextualized. Whether in the guise of a museum exhibiting looted artifacts, or the sixth largest Video Game Publisher in the world capitalizing on unpaid college athlete’s bodies/likeness, Perry finds moments where the agency of representation/authorship is taken away from those represented.
The exhibition is on view through February 25th.
— J. Garcia
Sondra Perry at Bridget Donahue [Exhibition Site]