For her exhibition at Kunsthal Aarhus Sondra Perry (1986, USA) presents a new body of video and installation-based works. The exhibition A Terrible Thing offers us new ways to experience the often invisible yet ever present architecture, labour and infrastructure within museums, and in this case Kunsthal Aarhus itself.
A Terrible Thing stems in part from Perry’s research into the history of blacksmithing as a form of highly skilled labour that, like other craftsmen, creates the building blocks of infrastructure and architecture. Perry is exploring the interplay between how people make spaces, and how spaces and materials shape people.
’A Terrible Thing thoughtfully offers numerous entry points to explore the rich, partially erased histories that surround this land [The US]—the western territory of the Haudenosaunee or Iroquois, the Western Reserve of Connecticut, Northeast Ohio, Forest City, and, of course, Cleveland. In the process, the work damages and upends narratives like those surrounding Cleveland’s urban development. It asks us to intellectually and physically reinsert ourselves into the problems and events of our environment in order to understand our future [….] As in much of her work, Perry also employs sophisticated, readily available digital media tools—such as CGI animation, GIS mapping, text-to-speech software, drone video surveillance, and found media footage—to explore and reveal the dominant role of technology in community building as well as perpetuating oppression. She does this by using a drone to capture imagery of a building that is at the heart of her critique, by inserting chroma key blue into the byways of a neighborhood to call attention to how and when it was gentrified and developed, and even by offering a sensory experience to evoke the conditions of a terrible past.’
Will Brown, The Following Is A Terrible Thing: This Is Their Story, from the introduction in the forthcoming exhibition catalogue
Sondra Perry often creates site-specific works and installations. She constructs narratives that explore blackness throughout history, culture, art and media – frequently based on her personal life. Perry is interested in free access to the internet, referred to as net neutrality, and the notion of collective production of anything from materials to new ideas which in turn can lead to collective action. She aims to democratise the access to culture and the arts by providing a new platform that varies from the current portrayal of blackness in the mass media.
A Terrible Thing is organised by the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland (moCa) (US), where the show was exhibited in the summer of 2019. A Terrible Thing at Kunsthal Aarhus marks the first solo exhibition of Sondra Perry in Denmark. An exhibition catalogue is produced in collaboration between moCa and Kunsthal Aarhus and published by Hatje Cantz in the autumn of 2019.