Brendan Fernandes: The Living Mask
September 6 – December 16/ 2018
In “Brendan Fernandes: The Living Mask,” wooden masks from Burkina Faso, Congo, Cameroon, and Nigeria from DePaul Art Museum’s African collection are shown alongside his own work from the last decade. With photographs, steel sculptures, neon lights, vinyl installation, and dance, the exhibition considers authorship, authenticity, post-colonial histories, performance, and identity in relationship to how museums collect and display African objects.
In the series “From Hiz Hands” Fernandes utilizes neon to create sculptures based on fabricated African masks sold to tourists along Canal Street in New York City. Masks are also the subject of the photographic series “Insiders,” which depicts masks unconventionally, as seen from the perspective of the wearer. Additional works in the exhibition explore movement and cultural meaning associated with the body and dance, as informed by Fernandes’s own training in classical ballet. The photographic series “As One” examines the roles of both ballet, originated in the French royal court of Louis XIV, and the museum in constructing cultural hierarchies. In a moment when the colonial foundations of the museum as an institution is being called into question, this exhibition examines museum traditions and considers how we can imagine new futures.
Brendan Fernandes (Canadian, b. 1979) lives and works in Chicago.