Black and Blue: American Artist Is Redefining How We Think About Race in the Digital Age, Alex Greenberger, δημοσίευση στο ArtnewsMarilena Pateraki
In 2013, one artist had their name legally changed to American Artist. “I was very interested in reframing the definition of an American artist,” that artist, who uses the last name Artist and prefers they/them pronouns, said. “If I make that my name, now I am it.” Completing the name change involved visiting a California court, publishing an official notice in a newspaper (“I chose the cheapest one,” they said), and setting up a hearing. No officials raised any objections.
Artist was messing with the stereotypes that attach to the phrase “American artist,” which calls to mind, for some, famous white men living in New York during the postwar era, like Jasper Johns and Andy Warhol. What would it mean for a black individual, like Artist, to adopt the title? Recalling the name-change process recently, Artist said, with a laugh, “I am American Artist now, so I guess that’s what an American artist is.”
Though their name-change isn’t a work per se, it is an example of Artist’s sly, slippery practice, which has taken the form of digital works, videos, and sculptures that take on the shifting nature of identity in the internet age. (It’s worth noting that Googling American Artist is a Sisyphean task.) Often, Artist draws out connections between systemic forms of racism and new technological developments—one body of work, for example, addressed the whiteness of new products put out by Silicon Valley by simultaneously thinking through the look of iPhones and the racial demographics of technology companies. “I’ve started to think about anti-blackness as being sort of algorithmic, in that it’s embedded in the firmware of American society,” they said. “It’s a constantly reproducing and evolving thing, and it’s always doing what it’s supposed to do.”
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