In Dialogue with Aisha Tandiwe Bell
Aisha Tandiwe Bell is interested in the many manifestations of the traps of race, sex, and class. She makes drawings, paintings, ceramic sculptures, installations, and performance work that examine the metaphors and the allegory that this trap manifests. In her newest work Aisha Tandiwe Bell’s is looking at how one might negotiate traps, utilizing shape shifting, and code-switching as well as looking at identifying markers that both separate and unify. She says, “I am a Black African American Jamaican Woman Artist Wife and Mother. These are all categories that I consistently juggle and negotiate in a white male dominated space.” Aisha Tandiwe Bell is participating in Domestic Brutes at Pelham Art Center.
AS: How do you see your work in context of Domestic Brutes feminist perspective?
ATB: The idea that a person can be treated as an adornment trapped in the domestic space, rights and power suppressed so much their rage and frustration pours out in other ways, is very much in the context of my work. Sometimes it is rage, depression, self-destruction, destroying those close. My work process is focused on these clay heads/mask that push into the 3-dimensional spaces, escaping the 2-dimensional space of stereotype – the deadfall booby trap/lean to is often present, the stripes refer to scars and ritual scarification and/or warpaint, identity as in fingerprints and all that recalls the bars of prison and the pattern of a target. In this series I also use metal leaf. My material of choice is very much about what is valued and precious.
AS: Tell me about the work in this show – its genesis and process.
ATB: The work in the show is an excerpt of a new direction. This new direction finds a way to encompass various physical and stylistic aspects of my work. Materially and metaphorically I am compressing several elements into one object. This is very new work for me and in many ways a departure of sorts, and a unification of various elements of my process. I have been painting the bodies of my sculptures onto walls for a while now. That work was very large and impermanent. These more intimate works are a result of an illness that made me reconsider my approach to many things in my life.
AS: How does the work in this show relate to your other work?
ATB: This work pulls elements from my very interdisciplinary practice and places them onto one very small piece of wood. I think my fixation on the Trap and all that it is and means and the ways we navigate and or embrace these societal traps. This exploration remains consistent through my various bodies of work.
AS: How do you hope viewers connect with your work in this show?
ATB: I hope that the work makes them ask questions and come up with possible answers, I hope they can find themselves in the work.
All photos courtesy of the artist.
Domestic Brutes at the Pelham Art Center through Nov 7th.
Artists: Tirtzah Bassel, Aisha Tandiwe Bell, Ashley Norwood Cooper, Maria de Los Angeles, Nancy Elsamanoudi, Fay Ku, Sharon Madanes, Lacey McKinney, Joiri Minaya, Rose Nestler, Simonette Quamina, Diana Schmertz, Alisa Sikelianos-Carter, Manju Shandler, Melissa Stern; Curated by Christina Massey and Etty Yaniv
Thanks to Audrey Putman for helping with the interview.
Etty Yaniv works on her art, art writing and curatorial projects in Brooklyn. She founded Art Spiel as a platform for highlighting the work of contemporary artists, including art reviews, studio visits, interviews with artists, curators, and gallerists. For more details contact by Email: firstname.lastname@example.org