Kingdom of the Marvelous

September 4-20, 2014
Curated by Charlotte Mouquin
Rush Arts Gallery
526 W 26th St # 311
New York, NY 10001
Hours: Wed - Sat 12-6 pm
(212) 691-9552
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Kingdom of the Marvelous
Allison Janae Hamilton
Thursday, September 4 – Saturday, September 20, 2014
Opening reception: Thursday, September 4th, from 6:00 to 8:00pm
Artist talk and closing Reception: Saturday, September 20th, from 3:00 to 6:00pm

Kingdom of the Marvelous is a restaging of photographs from Hamilton’s collection of her family’s photo albums from rural Tennessee as well as classic studio and fashion portraits depicting African-American life.  In this series, Hamilton asks questions about representation and self-fashioning by interrogating and reenacting persistent gestures in both studio and vernacular portraiture of the first half of the twentieth century.  The images in Kingdom also comment on the haunting gaps within cultural memory and histories and fill these voids with imaginative fantasies pieced together from fairytales, family myths and overheard gossip, superstitions, sermons, archival family photographs and memorabilia, Baptist hymns, and other forms of cultural iconicity.

In many of her portraits, Hamilton constructs elements of her sitters’ garments out of taxidermy—animal hides, antlers, skins, and heads.  Additional icons such as lace, flowers, veils, church fans, tambourines, curiosities, and food items animate her play on cultural history and memory and toy with expectations of identity and culture against the rural landscape.  The work is presented in the form of an installation that also includes landscape photographs Hamilton makes on her family’s farmland in Tennessee as well as furniture, parlor knickknacks and curiosities, taxidermy, fabric, and various sourced elements.  In this way, the work draws from the canons of magical realism, southern gothic literature, and the carnivalesque in order to meditate on disruption and magic in everyday routines and rituals of rural life.