Magazine article Artforum International

Lili Reynaud-Dewar: Kamel Mennour

Magazine article Artforum International

Lili Reynaud-Dewar: Kamel Mennour

Article excerpt


Lili Reynaud-Dewar


In 1985, finding that feminism and Marxism had "run aground," scientist and philosopher Donna Haraway published "A Cyborg Manifesto," proposing "a creature in a post-gender world." Arguing for "pleasure in the confusion of boundaries and for responsibility in their construction," Haraway asserts that "we are all ... fabricated hybrids of machine and organism; in short, we are cyborgs." When French artist, writer, and teacher Lili Reynaud-Dewar arrived in Memphis in 2009 to find billboards advertising "grillz," she interpreted this practice of adornment as a manifestation of Haraway's vision of hybridity. Grills--gold, silver, or platinum jewelry, sometimes studded with precious stones, and worn on the teeth--first appeared in New York City's hip-hop scene in the late 1970s and took off in the '90s with Southern rap. Looking something like oral prostheses, grills alter the appearance of the wearer's face more dramatically than traditional types of jewelry. It is this phenomenon, promoted in the city of Martin Luther King Jr.'s activism and murder, that Reynaud-Dewar examines in a recent body of work encompassing a performance, video, sculptures, and installation, all of which share the title TEETH, GUMS, MACHINES, FUTURE, SOCIETY, 2016.

On the walls of the gallery's narrow ground-floor space, Reynaud-Dewar posted excerpts from Haraway's manifesto in black block letters amid six aluminum sculptures of oversized grills. Mounted on metal posts, like grinning municipal waste bins, the interior cavities of the sculptures overflowed with American trash: empty plastic water bottles, cans of spray paint, packets of salad mix and other related waste. Crumpled trash was scattered over color posters from Reynaud-Dewar's related performance and video strewn across the floor. The dense, messy staging forced proximity with the metallic prostheses and brought out their relation, if only in Reynaud-Dewar's imagination, to Haraway's vision.

At the same time, in this project Reynaud-Dewar aims to evoke the civil rights movement and what happened in Memphis in 1968. On April 3 of that year, Martin Luther King Jr. …

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