Caitlin Cherry Interview with 032c
Interview with 032c

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CODED IMAGES: Caitlin Cherry on Bodies, Access, and the Interface

Interview by Tash Nikol Smith from 032c Magazine

Read the full interview HERE.

When exploring histories of complex, Black feminine identities in contemporary art and literature, there comes a point where you hit a void: Did these figures really exist?  But they always have, taking on a myriad of modes of survival and preservation for themselves and their community. Hortense Spillers emphasizes the distinction between bodies and flesh as they pertain to a Black ontology in “Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe” (1987), writing that although the flesh and body have been “liberated,” the “profitable ‘atomizing’ of the captive body” remains “grounded in the originating metaphors of captivity and mutilation” that followed chattel slavery into the new world.

This condition of Black bodies as fragmented and commodified provides a link to the ways Black identity functions today, in a world spoiled by the colonial gaze. Artist Caitlin Cherry explores these notions in her painting practice, where she borrows images of Black dancers, models, and influencers in contemporary culture for her source work. Her recently closed exhibition, Crichoues Indignation at The Hole in New York City, visualized the clash between Black femme identity and contemporary image culture through qualities reminiscent of psychedelia and gaming. Embedded within the bright colors, radial motion, and computer code characteristic to Cherry’s suite of large-scale paintings are the women central to industries that desire to diminish and define their identities. Borrowing its title from a series of tweets by Kanye West, in which the term “righteous indignation” is memeably misspelled, Cherry’s exhibition addresses the constant vulnerability of all Black bodies, specifically emphasizing society’s continued disregard for the wellbeing of the Black femme.