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Francks F Deceus
Brooklyn , NY

ARTIST STATEMENT: As a Haitian immigrant–or “refugee,” as I was sometimes referred to while growing up in Brooklyn during the 1980s – it was difficult to maintain social and cultural ties to more than one place at a time. This created a constant struggle with identity and acceptance. My current body of work revisits this struggle, with an eye to revealing both my life-long dialog with African American culture and the contemporary demands of a post-civil rights era. Despite my Haitian nationality, I am too often confronted by, and subjugated to, harsh scrutiny solely based on complexion, while polarizing my image and marginalizing its complex inner value. In one series of works, a hooded male figure is wrapped in a fire hose and is being propelled in random directions. The imagery in this set of works is both deliberately dispossessing and amusingly playful almost in equal measures, hence the title “Mumbo Jumbo.” The similarly titled novel by author Ishmael Reed inspires the series, “Mumbo Jumbo.” In the novel, as in this collection of works, Mr. Reed attempts to capture the complexities of the African American identity and how it is affronted and thrown askew by external pressures. Relatedly, I also seek to explore how commonplace objects can be re-loaded with an entirely different set of perceptions. This re-defining of ordinary, everyday items is based solely on the context within which such objects are placed. For example, in various pieces from this collection, it is interesting to note how the placing of a construction cone (in an otherwise innocuous social setting), can invoke an immediate sense of danger and urgency in the viewer. Against certain backdrops, hysteria has become the new normal when confronting and interacting with a minority population. Although hefty in terms of subject matter and pervasive in its relevance to our everyday lives, my goal in this work and the themes it seeks to explore, is to create a platform for meaningful discourse in hopes of fostering a state of collectivity and consciousness.

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