. Conversations at the Edge (CATE)

American Artist

Posted by | Amy Beste | Posted on | October 8, 2020

Thursday, October 08, 7:00 p.m.8:15 p.m. CT
Gene Siskel Film Center Virtual Cinema

Live captions available.Join us for a talk by multidisciplinary new media artist American Artist, whose work examines Black labor and visibility within networked life. Their video, Blue Life Seminar, is on view in the Gene Siskel Film Center’s virtual cinema from October 4–10. American Artist will be joined in conversation by shawné michaelain holloway and Jon Chambers.

American Artist, Blue Life Seminar, 2019. Courtesy of the artist

American Artist’s multidisciplinary practice spans new media, sculpture, and writing. In acclaimed projects like My Blue Window (2019), Artist criticizes artificial intelligence, mimicking the aesthetic of first-person games to lay bare the structural biases built into seemingly neutral policing technologies. In others, Artist imagines technologies that position Blackness as the basis of virtual creative possibility. Artist’s legal name serves as a foundation for these projects, suggesting that an “American artist” is Black, while at the same time resisting identification by digital systems.

Artist is a resident of Red Bull Arts Detroit, and a 2018–19 recipient of the Queens Museum Jerome Foundation Fellowship. They are a former resident of EYEBEAM and completed the Whitney Independent Study program as an artist in 2017. They have exhibited at the Whitney Museum of Art, New York; the Museum of African Diaspora, San Francisco; the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; and Koenig & Clinton, New York. Their writings have been published in The New Inquiry, the New Criticals, and Art21. Their work has been featured in the New York Times, Artforum, ARTnews, and the Huffington Post, among others. Artist is a part-time faculty at Parsons School of Design and teaches at the School for Poetic Computation.


Blue Life Seminar
October 4–October 10
Gene Siskel Film Center Virtual Cinema

Originally installed as the centerpiece of the exhibition I’m Blue (If I Was █████ I Would Die)Blue Life Seminar is a chilling lecture on policing and state violence. Delivered by a blue figure whose features are drawn from the Watchmen’s Doctor Manhattan and the Black, former Los Angeles Police Officer Christopher Dorner, the piece turns on the nature of “Blue Life,” an identity constructed by members of law enforcement in response to Black Lives Matter. Artist draws parallels between Doctor Manhattan, who self-exiled after becoming weaponized by the United States government, and Dorner, who shot and killed four people, including two cops, after publishing a manifesto on the LAPD’s racist culture and excessive use of force. “I am a man who has lost complete faith in the system,” the disillusioned figure declares, cautioning, “many of you who identify as blue are Black.”

American Artist, USA, 2019, 19:31 minutes