The commitment to interiority and ordinary life, consistently present in Black women’s independent cinema, counteracts the spectacularity that historically, as now, has been too often strangled by profit and libidinally driven demands to see black suffering; it marks instead, a form of openness and careYasmina Price
The American artist and filmmaker Garrett Bradley opens her inaugural exhibition with Lisson Gallery this autumn. Safe (2022) is the second in a trilogy of short films that explore the nuanced overlap between women’s interior and exterior lives. The film succeeds AKA (2019), a cinematic meditation on the intergenerational relationships between mothers and daughters which probes the interconnection of white and black women, as it is portrayed in classic American cinema.
If AKA looked to exterior relationships, Safe focuses on inner life, which the artist likens to “entire worlds which may be elusive or indiscernible, but remain vivid, infinite and parallel to the outside world.” Working again with Donna Crump (America) and Aloné Watts (Alone, America), this new work explores an attempt to capture the ineffable nature of interior emotions. Seizing on the medium’s predicament of expression – given that the interior is not discursive and cannot be fully represented – Bradley suggests that the interior is a radical, even political space of Black life that is often dismissed for its resistance to description; in this case, one’s ability to visualize intuition, instinct and an increasing sense of paralysis in modern life. Visual metaphor is treated as a means to approximate interior emotion (and lesser-known histories), which Bradley suggests as a potent and meaningful form of human expression.
Exhibited as a three-channel film, the work utilises both black-and-white and colour, 35mm film and HD video. Bradley’s soundscapes draw from the exterior world (street corners, city sirens, public parks), and include evocative fragments of language which are directly culled from research. The score runs concurrently across all three of 67 Lisson Street’s exhibition spaces.
Also on view: AKA (2019) is presented at MOCA, Los Angeles as part of the final leg of Bradley’s American museum touring show, ‘American Rhapsody’, from 10 September to 19 February 2023, first seen in Houston; while another new work will debut at MoMA, New York, for the exhibition, ‘Just Above Midtown: 1974 to the Present’, from 9 October to 18 February 2023.
About the artist
Garrett Bradley (b.1986, New York) is an American artist and filmmaker based in New Orleans, Louisiana. Bradley’s multimedia work draws together broad themes of oppression and conflict with a particular emphasis on place and location. Across a body of moving-image productions that blend elements of documentary and fiction, cinema and video art, Bradley’s camera situates wider themes in the minute textures of the everyday, exploring her subjects’ struggles and dreams and rooting the sociopolitical in personal and physical experience. Her collaborative and research-based approach to filmmaking is often inspired by the real-life stories of her protagonists. For Bradley, this research takes multiple forms –deep dives into historical archives, in-depth dialogues prompted by Craigslist want-ads, or an extended engagement with the communities and individuals she lives with – and results in works that combine both scripted and improvisatory scenes. Bradley’s films explore the space between fact and fiction, embracing modes of working and of representing history that blur the boundaries between traditional notions of narrative and documentary cinema. Her rigorous explorations of the social, economic, and racial politics of everyday life – its joys, pleasures, and pains – are lyrically and intimately rendered on screen.
Bradley received a BA from Smith College, Northampton, MA, USA (2007), and an MFA from UCLA, Los Angeles, CA, USA (2012). Bradley’s work has garnered acclaim at The Sundance Film Festival, The New York Film Festival, New Directors/New Films among others. Her work is represented in collections including The New Orleans Museum of Art, The Studio Museum in Harlem, and The Museum of Modern Art. Bradley’s Academy Award-nominated documentary Time (2020) was nominated for over 57 awards and won 20 times, including a 2020 Peabody Award, and the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, making her the first Black woman to win Best Director. Her film debut feature was also included in Time Magazine’s ‘25 Defining Works of the Black Renaissance’ and was listed in Barack Obama’s 2020 favourite film list. Bradley was a resident at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (2015). In 2022, she was awarded the Arts and Letters Award for Art by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2019, Bradley was honoured with the prestigious Prix de Rome by The American Academy in Rome.
Recent presentations include 2022 Invitational Exhibition of Visual Arts at American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York, NY, USA (2022); Toni Morrison’s Black Book at David Zwiner Gallery, New York, NY, USA (2022); Grief and Grievance: Art and Mourning in America at New Museum, New York, NY, USA (2021); Projects: Garrett Bradley at Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, USA (2020-21); Garrett Bradley: American Rhapsody at Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, TX, USA (2019) touring to The Momentary, Crystal Bridges, AR, (2021), August Wilson African American Cultural Center, Pittsburgh, PA, (2022) and MOCA, Los Angeles, CA (2022), all USA; Shirin Neshat + Garrett Bradley at The Broad @ Array, Los Angeles, CA, USA (2019); Garrett Bradley’s America: A Journey Through Race and Time at Brooklyn Academy of Music New York, NY, USA (2019); Bodies of Knowledge at New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans, LA, USA (2019); and the Whitney Biennial, New York, NY, USA (2019).
About Lisson Gallery
Lisson Gallery is one of the most influential and longest-running international contemporary art galleries in the world. Today the gallery supports and promotes the work of more than 60 international artists across two spaces in London, three in New York, and one in Shanghai, as well as forthcoming galleries in Beijing and Los Angeles. Established in 1967 by Nicholas Logsdail, Lisson Gallery pioneered the early careers of important Minimal and Conceptual artists, such as Art & Language, Carl Andre, Daniel Buren, Donald Judd, John Latham, Sol LeWitt, Richard Long and Robert Ryman among many others. It still works with many of these artists as well as others of that generation from Carmen Herrera to the renowned estate of Leon Polk Smith. In its second decade the gallery introduced significant British sculptors to the public for the first time, including Tony Cragg, Richard Deacon, Anish Kapoor, Shirazeh Houshiary and Julian Opie. Since 2000, the gallery has gone on to represent many more leading international artists such as Marina Abramovi?, Ai Weiwei, John Akomfrah, Susan Hiller, Tatsuo Miyajima and Sean Scully. It is also responsible for raising the international profile of a younger generation of artists led by Cory Arcangel, Ryan Gander, Van Hanos, Hugh Hayden, Haroon Mirza, Laure Prouvost, Pedro Reyes, Wael Shawky and Cheyney Thompson.