Trace of A Movement – Allana Clarke

Detroit artist Allana Clarke uses her own body to speak to and erase systemic trauma on a symbolic level.

Allana Clarke’s deeply transgressive works are characterized by a physically tangible, dialectical relationship between autonomy and interreferentiality; the simultaneity of perfection and imperfection, of creation and failure, display and concealment, process and result. The visualized, potentially infinite process of performative action encompasses moments of construction and design as well as contents of deconstruction and degeneration. These works preserve the traces of the body and thus possess a resistant residue that refuses receptive unambiguity. Heterogeneity and incommensurability become structural markers in Clarke’s oeuvre.

Photo Courtesy Allana Clarke

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Her works are characterized by slippery concepts of material and hybrid notions of form: unorthodox materials such as hair glue based on petrochemical components and cocoa butter are not only used as materials catering to a means to an end, but are also presented in their malleable form. The cocoa butter melts and coagulates into letters, the hair bonding glue flows and hardens and becomes a mysterious, opaque object that is simultaneously image, sculpture, body and process diagram. Conventional notions of volume, structure and texture, but also of the artist’s body itself, are set in motion, so that the artistic signature is inscribed in what Lyotard called a “practice of the resistant”, which allow hybridity, ambiguity and the most intimate experiences to infuse the work.

Photo Courtesy Allana Clarke

Clarke’s works are characterized both by their self-referentiality and their capacity for commentary: they are equally turned towards themselves and the world. The artist uses the transitory, contingent and ambivalent in both her choice of material and her artistic practice: this empowers her not only to critically name the personal and political history of systematic traumatization and the violent implications of ideals of Black beauty, but also to make them tangible.

Photo Courtesy Allana Clarke

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