The exhibition also marks the first public showing of Visani’s kits, a series of do-it-yourself flat pack sculptures based on art historical imagery depicting the institution of slavery. The two kits included in Do It Yourself are based on two of art history’s most iconic works depicting enslaved individuals, the seal of the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade from 1787, and Hiram Powers’ Greek Slave of 1848. Visani has digitized each of these and recreated them as larger than life cardboard sculptures. The boxed flat pack kits accompany the sculptures in the exhibition with instructions and material enclosed, 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 series 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.
In Do It Yourself, 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. As a whole, Do It Yourself is part exhibition, part salon, and part marketplace for ideas and commerce. 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.”