Kandis Williams: A / The
Kandis Williams: A / The
Jun 9 – Jul 29, 2023
Heidi
Berlin, Germany

The definite article (the) is used before a noun to indicate that the identity of the noun is known to the reader. The indefinite article (a, an) is used before a noun that is general or when its identity is not known.

For her first solo show with Heidi, entitled A / The, Kandis Williams presents a series of new works that test and poke the limits of internalization and externalization of racist and sexist tropes in the theatrical and cinematic portrayal of gendered black characters. By highlighting the ‘unseen’ or ‘unknown’ inner dialog of black femininity Williams is identifying and disidentifying with stereotypical characters that, while common, do not allow for the visibility of nuanced black female portraits.

The exhibition focuses on “A” and is divided in two parts, starting with the film installation, Medusa, portraying an interview between a woman journalist named Diane (played by German actress Thelma Buabeng) and the Gorgon Medusa (played by Sheba Anyawu), and complemented by a slide projector.

The exhibition continues with the critical exposition Going Thru It / Working Girl Color Theory / A Monologue – Thy Hand Belinda, a two-channel video structured in three acts. The video installation, shown across two screens with four accompanying slide projections, displays how parafiction mixes critical confabulation with plausibility and deniability. From Act I, the viewer is immersed in both the fiction and historicity of the screen-based heroine. Throughout Act II her use of seduction, virtuosity, antagonism, and comedy acts as a form of resistance and affect laden ‘entertainification’ of genocidal politics and apartheid. The resulting final act is one of a monologue performed in solitude.

The Heroine’s journey, which develops across the screens and slide projections, intends to ask: How far apart are Belief and Argument and Character? And how does theater blend these constructs into and out of knowing?

The images used in the five slide projectors presented in the gallery relate to misogynoir, a term coined by author Moya Bailey, and have been trending in the past years on social media platforms, like Twitter. The current popular dissemination of these images is shifting, exposing a messy contact zone between identity formations previously obscured or made indiscernible from each other through white supremacist image production, propaganda, incentive-based participation, narrative, and violence in theater, film and literature. This contact zone is here portrayed as a matrixial trans subjectivity produced by and in tandem with black communities under global capitalist colonialism scopic regimes. Charles Sanders Peirce’s trichotomy of signs is here conflated within the subjective intermingling of pop fantasy and political production and represented alongside schemas of psychoanalytic and cognitive behavioral approaches to trauma theory. As cultural terms around whiteness and its reputation as a form of property shift, theatrical representations and performances will see a whole new power to affect constitutional politics.

Williams sees theater as a line of defense against logical fallacies, a means of distributing new truths while still possibly being the greatest threat to black political autonomy. A / The displays the importance of addressing the erotics of primitivism, appropriation, and messiahism bound to black interiority. Theater and performance become essential to framing issues of sovereignty and exposing a praxis of Western ontological of the black hero/heroine journey in film and media, and the evisceration of late-stage racial capitalist genocide.

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