Throwback: Suné Woods at SF Camerawork
As I recently mentioned on the latest Field Notes video, while googling an exhibit that I saw at SF Camerawork back in 2016, I stumbled upon a related blog post that was originally written by myself, as a class assignment. I thought I have reproduced it below for you to read my past impressions on the show and as an acknowledgement of this thing that I've been working at for a while now, that has sort of come full circle in a way. Anyways, I hope you enjoy this blast from the past, and I hope this motivates you to go see Suné Woods' work at the Made in LA show at the Hammer Museum.
SUNÉ WOODS AT SF CAMERAWORK
May 26, 2016
This Tuesday, Suné Woods spoke to a crowd of curators, educators photographers, writers and students at SF Camerawork, in the latest installment of their ongoing Storytellers Lecture Series. Woods is the recipient of the 2016 BAUM Award for an Emerging American Photographer and a selection of her small scale collage and video work is showing at SFC. Woods, who completed her MFA in San Francisco, is now based in LA and is about to start a residency at LightWork in New York.
The lecture started with her paying homage to Octavia E. Butler’s Wild Seed, an influential text and intellectual framework for many of the themes in her work. Her series, ‘Bountiful Darkness’ which began in her graduate school years, explores the black body in landscapes, genealogy and the history embedded in certain natural environments, conjuring an undeveloped southern landscape. This series was featured in The New Explorers: Making Meaning in the 21st Century American Landscape by Kris Timken.
Woods frequently works in video as well, as it aids in storytelling, with fictional narratives meant to reimagine real experiences, ranging from the ‘brown baby’-boom of mixed German and Afro-American descent or the notion of absence between a father and daughter. Much of her work feels autobiographical even with her use of actors and scripted language. There are the traces of real memories and forgotten stories intermingling with the fabricated nature of the work in the gallery space and the viewer’s intervention.
The spaciality that Woods gives these memories also translates to her collage pieces which often take on sculptural qualities in their delicate yet deliberate shaping, coating and crumbling. These works deal with the notion of hand gestures and senses taking the place of bodies, technological advancement and its impact to the environment and the maladjustment of our bodies and the Earth. She also explores the postcolonial condition of alienated bodies, and the violence enacted upon citizens. Her video projection, “To Sleep With Terra” (aka “A Feeling Like Chaos”) deals with similar themes and incorporates stills of her collage work and short videos of three characters wandering through the wilderness and interacting with each other. A portion of the video can be viewed here: https://youtu.be/4UgO2H9KOzA