Zachary Fabri: X Black Y presents nine videos spanning a decade of projects by performance and media artist Zachary Fabri. Referencing coordinate points to mark a location, place, or home, X Black Y also implies the process of moving from point X to point Y, a trajectory for travel or dislocation. The exhibition maps the artist’s journey to locate Blackness and abstract qualities of racial identity in the US. With persistent poetics, Fabri stretches the notion of identity into something at once heavy and ephemeral, at once immutable and nimble, at once distant and close.
Works like The Big Payback address the Black Nationalist slogan “Buy Black,” part of a historic economic campaign to support black-owned businesses. The video questions the relevance of Black Nationalist ideology, in the context of home ownership and gentrification in black neighborhoods like Harlem today, where the video was filmed. In other works the home itself is experienced as a site of dislocation. In Kitchen Towels in Pankow the artist hangs tidy kitchen towels around a German city, and Untitled (Home Curtains) shows Fabri toeing a domestic perimeter, his body veiled in window curtains. Home is no longer a secure point of origin; it is a place that does not fit.
X and Y also allude to genetic identity. The Y chromosome plays an important role in genetic testing for African American ancestry. Simultaneously, it signals maleness, recalling the myriad ways race is gendered. For Fabri, racial identity is always dislocated and in tension with itself, impossibly both hard coded and performed. The exhibition is punctuated by four performances with balloons, a bowling ball, and a scrap of string. The heft and weightlessness of these objects symbolize the shifting embodiment of identity itself. In the nostalgic culmination, Forget me not, as my tether is clipped, an enormous cloud of balloons carries the artist’s long dreadlocks, a marker of his blackness, into the sky. The gap between X and Y narrows, drawing a path for escape.
Zachary Fabri received his BFA in graphic design from New World School of the Arts in Miami in 2000. He continued his studies at Hunter College, where he received an MFA in 2007. His solo exhibitions include Marrow in the Morrows, Third Streaming, New York (2012), and Not Cool: Out of Balance, Galerie Open, Berlin (2010). His group exhibitions include Radical Presence: Black Performance in Contemporary Art, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN, (2015); Fore, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York (2012); Civil Disobedience, White Box, New York (2010); Rockstone and Bootheel: Contemporary West Indian Art, Real Art Ways, Hartford, CT (2009); Metro Poles: Art in Action, Bronx River Art Center, Bronx, NY (2008); Neo Neo Dada, Rush Arts Gallery, New York (2007); Dark Matter, Galerie Open, Berlin (2007); Momentum: Nordic Biennial for Contemporary Art, Moss, Norway (2006); Domestic Affairs, Projekt 0047, Berlin (2006); and What Means Free?, Chelsea Hotel, New York (2005).
Zachary Fabri: X Black Y is curated by Katherine Behar, Assistant Professor in the Department of Fine and Performing Arts in the Weissman School of Arts and Sciences at Baruch College. The exhibition is made possible by support from the Baruch Computing and Technology Center (BCTC) and the Newman Library.
All images appear courtesy of the artist.
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The New Media Artspace is a teaching exhibition space in the Department of Fine and Performing Arts at Baruch College, CUNY. Housed in the Newman Library, the New Media Artspace showcases curated experimental media and interdisciplinary artworks by international artists, students, alumni, and faculty.
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