Autumn Knight with Nontsikelelo Mutiti
THE LA-A CONSORTIUM,
The La-A Consortium, Waiting Room is a deconstructed waiting room for an imagined consortium of institutions named after people of African diasporic heritage. Those institutions are present yet inaccessible: a door and welcome mat lead nowhere; branded materials sit out of reach. These strategies give form to an alternate future and envision new forms of power and visibility.
The namesakes are informed by the African American naming traditions that followed the Black Power Movement of the 1960s. These community-constructed names sought to convey distinct identities by combining conventional names with French prefixes (la and de) and invented suffixes (-iqua, -isha, and -aun). By incorporating these naming trends, Knight critiques institutional practices that enforce permanence and legacy by restricting power, access, and wealth.
The La-A Consortium, Waiting Room, 2018. Mixed-media installation including light, vinyl, pamphlets, welcome mat, water bottles, and sound. Courtesy of the artist and collaborator.
3rd Floor Landing
In this moment, the challenging circumstances of our political climate are producing a surge of ways to reimagine power structures. We view this as an absolutely productive strategy to move us out of this turmoil. This particular work is in conversation with those who feel charged with the task of reshaping tradition, reshaping chaos, reclaiming time. –Autumn Knight
WHAT MOTIVATES YOU AS AN ARTIST?
I’m motivated by my interest in the world–its systems, its failures, its joys.
PLEASE SHARE A BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE WORK YOU’RE SHOWING IN DECLARATION.
My work in the show, entitled La-a Consortium, is both an installation and a performance. The work puts forth a proposed group of organizations that exist in the near future named after prominent Black Americans. Both the installation and the performance wrestle with unexpected shifts in power and perspective.
ARE THERE DETAILS ABOUT THE WORK YOU’RE SHOWING IN DECLARATION THAT YOU’D ESPECIALLY LIKE AUDIENCES TO PAY ATTENTION TO?
I’d like audiences to pay attention to the potential power of making a “declaration.” Both the installation and performance of La-a Consortium are declarations about space, agency, and authorship.
WHAT DOES THE WORD “DECLARATION” MEAN TO YOU?
The word “declaration” in my work is about the boundaries of the imagination and the audience’s ability to join the artist in pushing into new territory.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU TO BE SHOWING YOUR WORK AT THIS MOMENT IN HISTORY? IN THIS LOCATION?
In this moment, the challenging circumstances of our political climate are producing a surge of ways to reimagine power structures. We view this as an absolutely productive strategy to move us out of this turmoil. This particular work is in conversation with those who feel charged with the task of reshaping tradition, reshaping chaos, reclaiming time.
Born 1980 Houston, Texas; Lives in New York, New York
Autumn Knight is an interdisciplinary artist who creates charged performances that play off the social dynamics of her audiences, amplifying the race, gender, and power relationships in the room. Her performances are created collectively with many other artists and incorporate a myriad of performative actions, from choreographed dance to partially scripted comedic dialogues to impromptu group performances, and more.
Knight received her BA in Theater Arts and Speech Communications from Dillard University in New Orleans and her MA in Drama Therapy from New York University. Select solo exhibitions: Krannart Art Museum in Champaign, Illinois (2017); Artspace in San Antonio, Texas (2015); Fresh Arts in Houston, Texas (2014); and Project Row House in Houston, Texas (2012-2013). Select group exhibitions: Contemporary Art Museum Houston, Texas (2015-2016); Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville, Arkansas (2014); and Texas State University Museum in Houston (2013). Select awards: Studio Museum Harlem Residency (2017), Artadia (2015), and The Idea Fund Grant (2014).
Born 1982 Harare, Zimbabwe; Lives in New York and Richmond, Virginia
Mutiti’s is a graphic designer and educator whose practice traverses the boundaries of fine art, design, and public engagement.
Mutiti received her BFA in Multimedia Art from the Zimbabwe Institute of Vigital Arts and an MFA in Graphic Design from Yale School of Arts. She has produced designs for: Black Women Artists for Black Lives Matter (2016); Harlem Postcard Project (2016); Simone Leigh’s Waiting Room (2014/2016); and Reading Zimbabwe (2016-ongoing). Select exhibitions: The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (2017); We Buy Gold in Brooklyn, New York (2017); Whitney Museum in New York (2016); and Studio Museum Harlem (2015). Awards and residencies include: Museum of Contemporary Art, Detroit; Recess, New York; Centre for Book Arts, New York; The Joan Mitchell Foundation Emerging Artist Grant; and Keleketla Library Residency in Johannesburg, South Africa. Mutiti is currently an associate professor at Virginia Commonwealth University in the department of Graphic Design.