Kandis Williams: A Field
Kandis Williams: A Field will feature a new, site-responsive commission by Kandis Williams (b.1985, Baltimore, MD), an artist, educator, writer, and publisher based in Los Angeles, CA. Williams’ work utilizes collage, printmaking, video, and performance to address racist theories and philosophies. With themes like surveillance, cannibalism, and exoticism, Williams upends logics born out of anti-Blackness to counter the consumption and fetishization of Black bodies. Williams’ commission for the ICA will merge for the first time the artist’s work in visual art, publishing (CASSANDRA PRESS), and performance, transforming the gallery into a space for reading images, text, and the body. Lo-fi publishing initiatives, conversations, and exchange of materials will allow for the dissemination of content outside of the gallery.
For Williams, “fields” suggest both fields of research as well as agricultural fields, and the labor associated with these spaces. At the ICA, this exhibition will appear as a botanical garden in ruins. Plant species with racist nomenclature will be transformed by the artist using fetishistic images of Black bodies from popular culture and historical archives. Industrial scaffolds and a greenhouse will serve as structures for new potted plants, vines, and a video. A Field will also speak to labor, specifically the United States’ reliance on convict-leasing for agricultural and other forms of essential labor—one of the ways slavery has been legalized and normalized under the Constitution.
In August 2020, as part of a commitment to opening up the processes behind its exhibitions through Public Study programs, the ICA will present a series of talks and workshops related to Williams’ project. Williams will co-host a public discussion on Zoom with thought leaders and communities of women who are directly involved in sex work and work related to eroticism. Their expertise has been an aid in the research and development of Williams’s new ICA-commissioned sculptures titled “Ho Vines” and “Fetish Flowers.” Additional talks will be dedicated to fields of study and spheres of activism that speak to this exhibition’s central thematics. In preparation for the exhibition, the ICA will also launch “Public Annotations,” inviting audiences to lend their voice to the research process through collaborative edits to open-access PDFs. “Public Annotations” will engage with Williams’s practice as a researcher and publisher, expanding her commitment, as CASSANDRA PRESS, to propagating dialogue focused on Black femme scholarship and activism.
Kandis Williams: A Field is curated by ICA Associate Curator Amber Esseiva and is the third iteration of Provocations, an annual commission series that takes its name from architect Steven Holl’s design intention for the ICA’s soaring True Farr Luck Gallery, which he calls “a provocation for artists to engage.
ABOUT KANDIS WILLIAMS
Kandis Williams is an artist, educator, writer, and publisher based in Los Angeles, CA. Williams’ work utilizes collage, printmaking, video, and performance to address racist theories and philosophies.