[Many thanks to Veerle Poupeye for bringing this item to our attention via Critical.Caribbean.Art.] Elena Martinique (Widewalls) examines Renée Cox’s work, with particular attention to “The Signing,” currently on view at the Boca Raton Museum of Art.
A Jamaica-born and New York-based photographer, artist, lecturer, and political activist, Renee Cox is celebrated for works that capture the identities and beauty within her subjects. Dedicating her career to deconstructing stereotypes, she has provoked conversations at the intersections of cultural work, activism, gender, and African studies.
The artist’s monumental, 12-foot-long photograph The Signing is currently on view at the Boca Raton Museum of Art. An interpretation of Howard Chandler Christy’s historical painting, Scene at The Signing of the Constitution of the United States, it offers a a contemporary look at one of America’s most historic events by portraying modern-day women and men of color in the place of the Founding Fathers.
We had a chat with Renee Cox to find out more about this stunning work. In an exclusive Widewalls interview, she talks about the narrative she was looking to convey, the working process behind the work, the representation of African Americans in art, the role of art in our turbulent times, and much more.
“The Signing” at the Boca Raton Museum of Art
Widewalls: Your major work “The Signing” is currently on view at the Boca Raton Museum of Art, exhibited for the first time in a museum. How did this come to be?
Renee Cox: I’ve known Kathleen Goncharov, the Senior Curator at the Boca Raton Museum of Art, for over 20 years and I have kept in contact. When I created The Signing, I sent her the image. Then when the elections came around, Kathy reached out because she thought it would be a good time to show this provocative work.
Widewalls: This photograph interprets Howard Chandler Christy’s historical painting, Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United States. Why did you choose to do a twist on this particular work?
RC: The major factor for creating this image was that Donald Trump was the president of the United States, and as far as I was concerned it looked like the beginning of fascism. I felt compelled to make a statement, reminder, that when the Constitution was written it did not include blacks as human beings – they were considered property.
Since the beginning of my practice, I’ve always played with revisionist notions in regards to art historical paintings. I call it “flipping the script.” By that, I mean replacing those stoic images with people of color, hence creating my own propaganda, my own world. [. . .]
For full article, see https://www.widewalls.ch/magazine/renee-cox-the-signing-interview
[Shown above: Renee Cox’s “The Signing” 2017.]