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Tariku Shiferaw
Brooklyn, NY
Neighborhood: Bushwick

Media:Painting;
Genre:Abstract;


ARTIST STATEMENT: My work deals with the concept of mark-making in the physical and metaphysical sense. Using paintings, objects, and installations as tools to mark spaces and places, I play with the notion that thought-processes and bodies are mark-makers or placeholders in society. Much like “x” in math, a mark becomes an unknown symbol that occupies a place until it is decoded. I realize that my black body in Western society functions similar to “x;” it is often ambiguous. It is simultaneously feared, adored, wanted, and mistreated. In my current body of work, “One of These Black Boys,” I use Hip-Hop, R&B, Jazz, Blues, and Reggae song titles in naming each piece. The titles are a vital part of the work addressing fragments of the conceptual concern dealing with bodies in socially constructed spaces. In appropriating song titles as painting titles, the work automatically inherits the references, identities, and the history portrayed through the songs. For instance, “If I Rule The World” is a song by Nas featuring Lauryn Hill, who re-imagine their reality with hopes to change it. If successful, it is evident that their first rule of action would be to “free all [the] sons.” Louis Armstrong in the song, “Black And Blue” wonders what he did to be so black and blue, and concludes that his only sin is in his skin. Dialectically overlaying these poetic gestures onto my paintings causes the work to navigate through a history of the struggle-life people of these songs portray. The songs are poetic gestures that mark moments in the timeline of our society and they are as much of visual-marks as these paintings are. In this series, each work becomes a placeholder for the bodies described within the lyrics of each song. Inevitably, the titles of these objects are three-four times removed from the original experience since they are simply referencing the reference of an experience. In this, a mirror affect is unintentionally created leaving patterns of refracting repetitions to serve as part of the aesthetics.
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