Cristin Tierney Gallery is pleased to show select historic works by Dread Scott at Art Basel Miami Beach. This presentation will take place in the Survey section of the fair at the Miami Beach Convention Center. Art Basel Miami Beach opens with preview days on November 29th and 30th and continues through Saturday, December 3rd.
Dread Scott is well-known for his art and performances that call out the United States’ history of and ongoing struggles with racism. The presentation in Miami revisits the artist’s early years, during which time Scott developed the interests and techniques that he would continue to explore in subsequent years. The works included are: Hardcore (1986), photographs from punk concerts in Chicago; Bensonhurst, Violence is an Equal Opportunity (1990), a sculpture encasing a pistol and bullets with the words “IN CASE OF EMERGENCY BREAK GLASS”; Harmed and Dangerous (1993), portraits of people of color holding guns; Ghetto (1994), photographs of Black children playing outside; and Turn of the Century (1999), a print combining a graphic photo of a lynching with an image of Mumia Abu-Jamal, a journalist and activist who was sentenced to death for the killing of a policeman in a deeply flawed trial.
Shown together, the five works can be read as a study of violence: they examine who can exercise it without fear of repercussion, and the privilege inherent in that ability. Although the men and women pictured in Harmed and Dangerous display the weapons they carry, there is no additional context given to indicate why they are armed; the viewer is left to imagine the subjects’ motivation as well as potentially interrogate the viewer's own perception of Black people with guns. In Bensonhurst, engraved brass plaques feature quotes about guns. One quote by Mao Zedong, which was later adopted by the Black Panthers, reads, “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.” The second quote by Fred Hampton, Chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party begins: “…There’s nothing wrong with the guns in our community, there’s just been a misdirection of guns in our community. For some reason or another, the pigs have all the guns, so all we have to do is equally distribute them.”
This exhortation to arm oneself contrasts painfully with Turn of the Century. At the bottom of the print is a photo of the spectacle lynching of J. Thomas Shipp and Abraham Smith, two Black men who were murdered by a mob of thousands. Above this is a portrait of handcuffed activist Mumia Abu-Jamal raising his fist in the Black power symbol. The narrative told by these works is a partial history of violence against the Black community and their attempts to fight back. They highlight the Black Panthers’ solution to police brutality and other hostilities: fight reactionary violence with revolution.
More subtle are Scott’s two black-and-white photo series, Hardcore and Ghetto. In Hardcore, young men collide into and shove each other on a dance floor. In both this series and in Ghetto, we see youth in moments of freedom, their bodies moving without restriction. The boys of Ghetto, however, are dogged by signs of segregation and enforced poverty, from the ripped basketball net to the boarded apartment windows. Their joy, exuberance and defiance contrasts with the surroundings which beg the questions of how safe and free they really are, and how the world will accommodate their anger as they age.
The issues explored by Scott in his early years have not disappeared; they remain urgent and unsolved, with many artists (including Scott) continuing to tackle these themes in the present. This presentation of works from the ‘80s and ‘90s illuminates how Scott helped to lay the foundation for the contemporary art landscape we see today.
Dread Scott (b. 1965, Chicago, IL) is an interdisciplinary artist who for three decades has made work that encourages viewers to re-examine cohering ideals of American society. In 1989, the US Senate outlawed his artwork and President Bush declared it "disgraceful" because of its transgressive use of the American flag. Dread became part of a landmark Supreme Court case when he and others burned flags on the steps of the Capitol. He has presented a TED talk on this subject.
His art has been exhibited at MoMA/PS1, The Walker Art Center, CAM St. Louis, and Kunsthal KAdE. It is included in the collections of the Whitney Museum, Brooklyn Museum, Montclair Art Museum, Munson-Williams-Proctor Art Institute, Ackland Art Museum at University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, and Worcester Art Museum, and has been featured on the covers of Artforum and The Brooklyn Rail, and on the front page of NYTimes.com. In 2019 he presented Slave Rebellion Reenactment, a community engaged project that reenacted the largest rebellion of enslaved people in US history. The project was featured in Vanity Fair, The New York Times, by Christiane Amanpour on CNN and highlighted by as one of the most important artworks of the decade.
In 2021, Scott received the John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, Frieze Impact Prize and a Purchase Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He also completed a residency at KADIST that year and was named a Senior Fellow at the Lunder Institute for American Art at Colby College in Maine. He was the 2019 Open Society Foundations Soros Equality Fellow and has received fellowships from United States Artists and Creative Capital Foundation. This past December, ARTnews named his NFT White Male for Sale one of the defining artworks of 2021. His studio is in Brooklyn, New York.
Founded in 2010, Cristin Tierney Gallery is a contemporary art gallery located on The Bowery with a deep commitment to the presentation, development and support of a roster of both established and emerging artists. Its program emphasizes artists engaged with critical theory and art history, with an emphasis on conceptual, video, and performance art. Education and audience engagement is central to our mission.
Cristin Tierney Gallery is a member of the ADAA (Art Dealers Association of America).