Martine Syms has gained international recognition for an art practice that weaves together humour, social commentary, and grit to draw attention to representations of Blackness throughout film and art history. A self-proclaimed conceptual entrepreneur, Syms works predominantly with video, text, performance, and moving image.Read More
Syms received an MFA from Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson in 2017 and a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2007.
Adopting a processual, research-based approach, Syms examines representations of Blackness and its relationship to vernacular, feminist thought and radical traditions, with particular focus on performed or imposed identities. Syms' projects also probe the multiple ways our hyper-networked present continually transforms notions of the self.
In 2022, Syms released her first feature film, The African Desperate (2022) starring artist Diamond Stingily, which premiered at the Museum of Modern Art's New Directors/New Films festival. The African Desperate is an intimate and at times confessional narrative leading viewers on a comedic journey through a day in the life of an artist graduating from art school and having to deal with the upheavals and challenges of academia.
In 2011, Syms founded the publishing platform Dominica Publishing in her native Los Angeles, an imprint dedicated to 'exploring Blackness as a topic, reference, marker, and audience in visual culture'. The platform has published work by Laurie Anderson, Diamond Stingily, Hannah Black, and Syms herself.
Previous notable projects include The Mundane Afrofuturist Manifesto, published by Rhizome, which calls on Black diasporic artistic producers to engage in a more realistic re-imagination of the future.
Adopting collaborative working methods, Syms works on projects including hosting a monthly radio show on NTS titled Double Penetration, which presents 'bedroom recordings, source material, experiments in liveness, and beloved tunes.' She also hosted the Carnegie Museum of Art's six-episode podcast series Mirror with a Memory and shot Prada's 2021 Linea Rossa campaign.
In 2014, Syms released Most Days, an album consisting of Syms reading a screenplay she wrote about a young Black woman in 2050 Los Angeles.
Martine Syms has been the subject of both solo and group exhibitions.
Solo exhibitions include Martine Syms: She Mad Season One, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (MCA) (2022); Boon, Secession, Vienna (2019); Fact & Trouble, Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA), London (2016).
Group exhibitions include Glasgow International (2021); Celebration of Our Enemies: Selections from the Hammer Contemporary Collection, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2019); 2015 Triennial: Surround Audience, New Museum, New York (2015); Speaking of People: Ebony, Jet and Contemporary Art, Studio Museum in Harlem, New York (2014).
Jareh das | Ocula | 2022