Steffani Jemison attends to the seam between conceptual precepts and embodied knowledge. Her multidisciplinary approach spans time-based, sculptural, and discursive mediums, informed by deep research into movement practices, literature, ethnomusicology, and the history of cinema. A 2020 recipient of a Creative Capital Award and a Guggenheim Fellowship, among other honors, Jemison has previously shown with Kai Matsumiya, New York. Her recent work examines the liberatory potential of opacity and quiet. Calligraphic drawings on clear film or tempered glass suggest an unreadable language, amplifying what she calls the “tensions between what can be read, what can be intuited, and what refuses to give up its secrets.” Mining the Black vernacular tradition of encrypting what cannot be said, Jemison looks to the archive for alternative genealogies of mark-making that sidestep the modernist narrative. The artist is perhaps best known for her lush video portrayals of highly skilled performers, whose spellbinding physical feats pose the questions at the heart of Jemison’s own practice. “How do we move?” she asks. “How are we moved by each other? And how do we have the courage to pour ourselves into another without fear of depletion?”
Jemison’s work will be featured in this year’s installment of Greater New York at MoMA PS1, and her debut exhibition at Greene Naftali will open on November 4.