September 6 – December 16 / 2018
In “Brendan Fernandes: The Living Mask,” wooden masks from Burkina Faso, Congo, Cameroon, and Nigeria from DePaul Art Museum’s African collection are shown alongside the Chicago-based artist's work from the last decade. With photographs, steel sculptures, neon lights, a vinyl installation, and dance, the exhibition considers authorship, authenticity, post-colonial histories, performance, and identity in relationship to how museums collect and display African objects.
In the series “From Hiz Hands” Fernandes (Canadian, b. Kenya 1979) utilizes neon to create sculptures based on fabricated African masks sold to tourists along Canal Street in New York City. Masks are also the subject of the photographic series “Insiders,” which depicts masks unconventionally, as seen from the perspective of the wearer. Additional works in the exhibition explore movement and cultural meaning associated with the body and dance, as informed by Fernandes’s own training in classical ballet. The photographic series “As One” examines the roles of both ballet, originated in the French royal court of Louis XIV, and the museum in constructing cultural hierarchies. In a moment when the colonial foundations of the museum as an institution is being called into question, this exhibition examines museum traditions and considers how we can imagine new futures.
"Brendan Fernandes: The Living Mask" is curated by DPAM Director and Chief Curator Julie Rodrigues Widholm.
Generous support for this exhibition is provided by Gary Metzner and Scott Johnson, Eugene Fu, Monique Meloche and Evan Boris, Scott J. Hunter, and Tony Karman | EXPO CHICAGO.