“To go unnoticed is by no means easy.”
—Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari
On the heels of the artist’s presentation at the 56th International Art Exhibition in Venice, Italy, the Contemporary Arts Center is proud to organize the largest solo museum presentation of Adam Pendleton’s (b. 1984, Richmond, Virginia) work in the United States. Including film, wall paintings, ceramics, silkscreens (on mylar, plexiglass, steel, and canvas), Adam Pendleton: Becoming Imperceptible frames the artist’s oeuvre as a complex dialogue between culture and system, a body of work invested in the perpetual cross-referencing of aesthetic and social histories.
At the center of this exhibition are the found images, which have served as the artist’s source material throughout his practice. Reframed, reconditioned, and perpetually reoccurring, these images have been described by the artist as “indistinct.” And yet, harvested from the artist’s personal library, from texts and films ranging from The Short Century: Independence and Liberation Movements in Africa 1945–1994 and “Black Dada Nihilismus” by LeRoi Jones (later re-identified as Amiri Baraka) to Jean-Luc Godard’s Sympathy for the Devil, the images serve as bedrock for Pendleton’s artistic practice and connect his form of abstraction with the history of the American Civil Rights Movement, the pre-war Avant-Garde, La Nouvelle Vague in film, and Minimalist and Conceptualist art practices of the 1960s.
Becoming Imperceptible takes its name from the writings of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, with whose philosophical works Pendleton has long engaged, and positions Pendleton’s practice as a kind of counter-portraiture. If traditional portraiture figures the subject in contrast to or against its background, Pendleton’s works aim to disappear or camouflage the subject amid constantly alternating surfaces. Becoming Imperceptible welcomes its audiences at once into the history of Civil Rights and Black Resistance movements, Black aesthetic tradition, and the historical avant-garde. It calls on histories that have indelibly shaped American culture as it opens up a rigorous conversation about system and form in the European, African, and American avant-gardes of the last century.
This exhibition is curated by Andrea Andersson Ph.D., The Helis Foundation Chief Curator of Visual Arts, and organized by the Contemporary Arts Center (CAC), New Orleans.
Support for the Adam Pendleton: Becoming Imperceptible publication and exhibition is provided by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Additional support is provided by the Sydney & Walda Besthoff Foundation; the John T. Scott Guild; The Helis Foundation; The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; Aimée and Mike Siegel; Pace Gallery, New York; Galeria Pedro Cera, Lisbon; and Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zürich. In-kind support is provided by Astek Inc., and Ace Hotel New Orleans.