Conceptual artist and photographer SOPHIA WALLACE donated “Raadiy No. 2” fromthe series Modern Dandy to Sylvia Rivera Law Project’s SMALL WORKS FOR BIG CHANGE. Modern Dandy was a recipient of PDN’s The Curator award 2011 and was Critic’s Pick by the Griffin Museum of Photography 2011. It was selected for Identities Now: Contemporary Portraiture a hardcover book by Peter Hay Halpert Fine Art available Autumn 2012. It also earned honorable mention in Magenta’s Flash Forward 2011. It has been exhibited in numerous galleries including MiLK Gallery this July, the Affordable Art Fair NYC in the spring of 2011, the Chelsea Art Museum for the NUTURE Art and more.
Jeanne: Tell me about the work you’re donating to SMALL WORKS FOR BIG CHANGE?
Sophia: I selected Raadiy No. 2 from the series Modern Dandy. In this project, I explored the concept of dandyism as a radical rejection of gender normativity and reference a history of dandyism that reaches back to the late eighteenth century. InModern Dandy, the models are represented as fashion icons, linked to a history of black dandyism. Often misunderstood as superficial, dandyism is rather a position of utilizing aesthetic practices on ones body – sartorial elegance, androgyny, beauty – to create a form of freedom. Dandyism is available to men, women and transgender individuals. This openness is perhaps what makes it so threatening.
Jeanne: Why is it important to you, as an artist, to donate work to the SYLVIA RIVERA LAW PROJECT?
Sophia: Since it’s founding, SRLP has been on the front lines of the gender justice movement. I strongly support their mission to empower individuals to self-determine one’s own gender identity. Moreover, that SRLP specifically targets gender non-conforming populations who are of color and/or poor separates SRLP from organizations who lack an inter-sectional analysis of inequality. The law is a powerful tool that is often out of reach for those who need it’s protection the most. Therefore, SRLP has rightly positioned itself – targeting those who are in the very greatest need of it’s remedies.
Jeanne: How is making art a tool for social justice?
Sophia: It certainly depends on the artist. Art that sells for millions, by millionaire artists who use studio assistants and fabricators to make their work – are supporting an idea of art as the domain of the most elite in our society. In my practice, I explore how subjects are used in pictures to re-inscribe power. Often I use fashion as a Trojan Horse to move past the gates of subconscious prejudice on the part of the viewer. Once inside, I deploy my art. This is necessary, as the medium of photography is often wielded to globalize the notion of the ideal. My work is a discursive response to the imagery that dominates our visual landscape.
Posted on Tuesday, February 21st 2012
Reblogged from WHATEVER JEANNE