New! Renee Cox profile at the Black Atlantic Resource exploring the motivations and interpretations of this artist’s work, some of which recently featured in the ‘Afro Modern: Journeys through the Black Atlantic’ exhibition at Tate Liverpool.
Renee Cox is a Jamaican-American photographer who uses self-portrait to explore race, gender and empowerment. She has transformed herself into a range of historical figures inclduing: Queen Nanny of the Maroons the ‘Hottentot Venus’ and even Jesus Christ.
Cox has also created bold characters whom she embodies in her work: her superhero persona ‘Raje’ physically confronts racial stereotypes – issuing in a ‘bold new era’, and ‘Yo Mamma’, is a ‘towering’ female figure both ‘regal and erotic’. In her work recreating famous landmark pieces of art, Flipping the Script, Cox works as an iconoclast of sorts, challenging the received truths offered by Leonardo Da Vinci and other classic artists.
These powerful personas and re-imagings have provoked strong responses, particularly her reinterpretation of the Last Supper which drew criticism from both the Catholic church and Rudy Giuliani, Mayor of New York from 1994-2001, who said Cox’s work defied ‘decency standards’. Cox’s response was “I have a right to reinterpret the Last Supper as Leonardo da Vinci created the Last Supper with people who look like him.”
Cox said, of her own work and approah to art, ‘If you don’t ask you don’t get. Then you get kicked to the curb’. With African Americans still vastly under-represented in the history of art and recognised as under-valued in artistic collecting by both collectors and art historians does Cox have a point? More importantly, does she have an effective approach to challenging this and the stereotypes and issues surrounding race and gender today?
Read more at the Black Atlantic Resource and join the debate here …