The Immigrant Artist Biennial – In Dialogue

Portraiture, Archives, and Representation: Golnar Adili, Erika DeFreitas, and Jonathan Ojekunle

On the left: Jonathan Ojekunle. Shining Light, 2022. Oil, acrylic on canvas. 60 x 48 in. Courtesy of the artist and The Immigrant Artist Biennial. Courtesy NARS Foundation. Photographed by Young Yu Don.

Oftentimes, in thinking about the representation of the human form in art, people can get very attached to the ‘abstraction’ versus ‘figuration’ binary. These respective styles frequently get coded as opposites, and certain kinds of politics are ascribed to each. For example, ‘figuration’ is coded as a kind of politics of representation, whereas ‘abstraction’ is a politics of refusal or resistance to legibility. However, the work of Golnar Adili, Erika DeFreitas, and Jonathan Ojekunle, all on view in The Immigrant Artist Biennial 2023: Contact Zone, functions beyond this binary in fresh ways. We interviewed the artists about portraiture and its relationship with archives and representation.

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The Immigrant Artist Biennial (TIAB) 2023

Featured Project: TIAB 2023 with Bianca Abdi-Boragi, Katherine Adams, Anna Mikaela Ekstrand, and Meghana Karnik

From left: Anna Mikaela Ekstrand, Bianca Abdi-Boragi, Katherine Adams, and Meghana Karnik. Photographed by Yann Chashanovski.

The Immigrant Artist Biennial is the first and only biennial to celebrate and amplify the diverse voices of immigrant artists and its second edition will take place in 2023 hosted by institutional partners. A venue for artist-curators, the biennial’s founding artistic director Katya Grokhovsky, who curated the first edition, has appointed artists Bianca Abdi-Boragi and Meghana Karnik alongside curators Katherine Adams and Anna Mikaela Ekstrand to form the core curatorial team. Further pushing the boundaries for curation, the team has chosen to collaboratively curate the biennial and have begun a year of communal research and studio visits aiming to announce their concept in 2022.

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