Cauleen Smith: Mutualities
Feb 17, 2020–Jan 31, 2021
Cauleen Smith (b. 1967) draws on experimental film, non-Western cosmologies, poetry, and science fiction to create works that reflect on memory and Afro-diasporic histories. Mutualities, the artist’s first solo show in New York, presents two of Smith’s films, Sojourner and Pilgrim—each in a newly created installation environment—along with a new group of drawings collectively titled Firespitters.
The films unfold across several important sites in Black spiritual and cultural history, weaving together writings by women from different eras, including Shaker visionary Rebecca Cox Jackson, abolitionist Sojourner Truth, the 1970s Black feminist organization Combahee River Collective, and experimental jazz composer and spiritual leader Alice Coltrane, whose music also forms the soundtrack for both films. Smith’s poetic use of the camera and light draws the viewer into a welcoming and accepting space that reveals the many ways in which invention and generosity can be resources for transformation and regeneration.
Cauleen Smith: Mutualities is organized by Chrissie Iles, Anne & Joel Ehrenkranz Curator, with Clemence White, senior curatorial assistant.
Cauleen Smith: Mutualities is part of the Whitney’s emerging artists program, sponsored by
Generous support is provided by The Rosenkranz Foundation.
Additional support is provided by the Artists Council.
Installation view of Cauleen Smith: Mutualities (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, February 17–May 17, 2020). From left to right: Alexis Holds Audre Lorde, 2020; Natalie Diaz, 2020; Natalie Holds Dionne Brand, 2020; Gregg Bordowitz, 2020; Gregg Holds Robert, 2020; Latasha Gave Me African Sleeping Sickness, 2020; Krista Franklin, 2020; Krista Holds Terrance, 2020; Dionne Holds Sylvia D. Hamilton, 2020; Dionne Brand, 2020. Photograph by Ron Amstutz
In the News
"[A] visual feat" —The Art Newspaper
"Smith merges utopian futurism with wistful revision." —The New Yorker
"In many ways Cauleen Smith is the dynamic, conceptual artist one would expect. Beyond expectations, however, is her bold—and especially collaborative—creative voice." —CR Fashion Book