Simmons’ installation will be the second in the series following Abdelkader Benchamma’s Representation of Dark Matter (April 2015 – August 2016).
Mining the iconography of American popular culture, Gary Simmons’s work addresses personal and collective experiences of race and class. He is best known for his “erasure drawings,” which he began working on in the late 1980s in an abandoned school in New York City that contained an abundance of blackboards. Using white chalk on slate-painted panels or walls, Simmons blurred the drawings with his hands resulting in hazy but persistent images that evoke faded memories or classrooms at the end of the school day. For The Drawing Center, Simmons will create a text-based work consisting of names of African American actors and actresses from the early days of silent film. The artist describes the installation, whose format recalls the scrolling of closing film credits frozen in mid-motion, as invoking “the memories of actors that have been blurred in the history of Hollywood film . . . a kind of silence in both voice and visibility.”