For NADA Foreland, Visani has recreated two iconic sculptures from the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art; John Quincy Adams Ward’s The Freedman, 1863 and Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux’s Why Born Enslaved!, 1873. The two works have been digitized and recreated as larger than life cardboard sculptures. The boxed flat pack kits accompanying the sculptures include instructions and materials, thereby enabling any D.I.Y.er the potential to create a ‘slave sculpture’ of their own. In addition to the assembled sculptures and kits, are a selection of laser cut drawings mounted in antique oval frames. The drawings isolate the sculptures from varying points of view and expand upon the complex narratives contained within Visani’s project.
Within this body of work, Visani invites us to consider the creation, proliferation, and abolishment of slavery as a series of systems built on conflicting notions of servitude, cooperation, ownership, enterprise, and propaganda. Visani’s use of digital tools in the creation of his kits, point to both the empowering and oppressive potential of technology. The artist states,
“We inherited these objects and images. They are part of our past, yet resonate in our present. In many ways the realities of slavery are alive to this day. For me, making this work is an attempt to try and grasp a small part of the impact that slavery and its legacy has had on us all and to consider how we carry that forward. My goal ultimately is to engage others in this meaningful work.”
NADA x Foreland is a collaborative weekend exhibition to take place August 28–29, 2021 at Foreland—a new arts campus in upstate New York—featuring artwork installed in a historic industrial building in the center of Catskill, New York. In partnership with Upstate Art Weekend and co-organized with NADA Member Jesse Greenberg of JAG Projects, the exhibition will highlight artworks from the community of NADA galleries, non-profits, and artists with a focus on artists working in the region of Upstate New York, featuring 81 exhibiting galleries, non-profits, and artist-run spaces presenting over 100 artists.