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Aisha Tandiwe Bell
brooklyn, NY
Neighborhood: Bedford-Stuyvesant



ARTIST STATEMENT: I am a reflection of society. My work is a dual narrative, commenting on public and internal identities tied to race, sex and class. I’ve long been making clay heads, life size high-relief portraits of stereotypes, mostly women, all black, my altered egos. Their bodies have always been drawn. Awareness is the first step to freedom. Sculpted the consciousness pushes into the third dimension as my metaphor, for revolution. These heads became mask that I wore in performances and videos to depict the weight and burden of identity. Realizing that we unconsciously embrace some categories, the work began an exploration of individual, insecurities, self prescribed traps, walls, armor, masks, and stereotypes that are worn/carried out of habit, comfort, and fear. Influenced by Du Boisian “double consciousness” and Jacques Lacan’s shape shifting subconscious I realized that we have many identities and like chameleons they shift according to our surroundings. Interested in African and Indigenous ideas of “the trickster” and “the crossroads”, “getting a head”, “putting our heads together”, “bootstrapping”, and “chasing de crown” my bone white androgynous many headed series all speak to our ability to transform, resist and escape traps while exploring ideas of transformation, multiplicity, indecision, confusion and balance.
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  • run duppy na leggo
    2008
    video still   variable
    woman running away from a second identity

  • blue bath
    2009
    clay tempura performance   variable
    audience beets clay heads together to which i dance sing and stain my clothing and armor in a blue bath

  • getting a head
    2010
    as i dance the skirt of heads shatter

  • breaking head
    2008
    performance still   8 min
    there is a link to this video

  • pull(getting A head)
    2010
    clay tempura fabric, ink, gold cord   life size
    they are wearing and standing on about 100 clay heads

  • getting ahead
    2009
    clay tempura fabric, ink, gold cord   life size

  • chasing de crown
    2010
    clay tempura fabric, ink, gold cord   variable

  • chasing de crown (detail)
    2010
    clay tempura fabric, ink, gold cord   life size

  • de crown
    2010
    clay tempura   variable
    This piece can be worn

  • wearing de crown
    2010

  • aint i'm clean
    2007
    video still   6 min
    woman carrying second head of clat gets into tub and washes off the color

  • couple with baggage
    clay tempura canvas fabric ink

  • chameleon
    on going
    clay tempura canvas fabric ink   12X 16 feet

  • harness
    2009
    clay tempura canvas fabric ink   life size

  • misery a ride me

  • kite
    2010
    graphite, collage, gold leaf

  • two faced
    2010
    graphite, collage, gold leaf

  • swing
    2010
    graphite, acrylic

  • bootstrapping2
    2009
    graphite, acrylic

  • bootstrapping
    2009
 








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