Sondra Perry on Her Rolls-Royce Video Commission, ‘Lineage for a Phantom Zone’
'The old is being seen through a different literal lens and we're getting to discover who we are once more through another technology,' Perry said.
Sondra Perry. Photo: Travis Matthews.
New Jersey-born artist Sondra Perry is showing a new video installation commissioned by Muse, the Rolls-Royce Art Programme.
Perry's work Lineage for a Phantom Zone sees the artist conjure music from a Moog Theremini as she explores her personal history and the erasure of Black history in the American South.
'I'm making a work that is preoccupied with memory, moving image archival footage, and dreams. Thinking about how your dreams can posit new futures for you,' she said.
'Some of the influences from my art practice are definitely my family members. My folks worked with what they had. I used to say they worked with very little but what they worked with was a lot. It was culture, it was family history.'
Lineage for a Phantom Zone is the first work created for the Rolls-Royce Art Programme's Dream Commission, which was established to advance the medium of moving image art.
'There's something about the medium and its dissemination that allows the general public to have a really sophisticated understanding of what moving images do, for better or for worse—if they're playing with stereotypes, if the image is degrading people,' Perry said. 'It's part of my work as an artist to show those systems, how they work, how we are viewing people in the moving image space.'
'All of these new technological spaces of representation are great ways where old stories are becoming new again, or the old is being seen through a different literal lens and we're getting to discover who we are once more through another technology, in the same ways that we discovered who we were through photography, hundreds of years ago,' Perry said.
Lineage for a Phantom Zone is showing at Fondation Beyeler in Basel, Switzerland, through 13 March. In 2023, the work will travel to London's Serpentine Gallery, where Sondra Perry exhibited another video installation in 2018.
In that work, entitled Typhoon Coming On (2018), Perry animated the ocean in JMW Turner's painting Slave Ship (1840), which was originally called Slavers Throwing overboard the Dead and Dying—Typhoon coming on.
The Turner painting depicts a real event in 1781 when 132 slaves were thrown overboard by the British slave ship Zong so the dead 'goods' could be claimed under the ship's insurance policy. —[O]