Frac Lorraine presents a survey of rarely exhibited immersive, site-specific installations from 1980 to 1998 by Betye Saar. Rooted in the artist’s critical focus on Black identity and intersectional feminism as well as the racialized and gendered connotations of found objects, Saar’s installations expand on her celebrated repertoire and offer broadened insight into ritual, spirituality, and cosmologies in relation to the African American experience and the African diaspora. Saar’s intimately scaled works of the 1960s and 1970s—poignant examinations of race and gender through assemblages of readymades and found objects—became icons of Black feminist art. In works like The Liberation of Aunt Jemima (1972), Saar altered and augmented found, commercially available objects—in this case adding a rifle and a raised fist to the familiar stereotypical commercial emblem—in order to highlight and dismantle racialized images that pervade everyday life.
Audiences have rarely had the opportunity to encounter the artist’s radical installations, many of which have been recently rediscovered and will be exhibited at ICA Miami for the first time in decades. Influenced by research trips to Haiti, Mexico, and Nigeria undertaken by the artist in the 1970s, these immersive works explore concepts of ritual and community through both cultural symbols and autobiographical references. Saar’s installations combine charged objects to create rich, narrative worlds.
The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue edited by Stephanie Seidel and published by DelMonico Books • D.A.P. featuring contributions by Sampada Aranke, Edwidge Danticat, Leah Ollman, and Seidel.
Betye Saar: Serious Moonlight is organized by ICA Miami in collaboration with 49 Nord 6 Est – Frac Lorraine, Metz, France, and Kunstmuseum Luzern, Switzerland and curated by Stephanie Seidel, Curator, ICA Miami.