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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

In Context: Brooklyn Bred 2: Clifford Owens

Clifford Owens performs A Forum for Performance Art at BAM as part of Brooklyn Bred 2 on October 16. Context is everything, so get even closer to the show with this curated selection of original blog pieces, articles, interviews, and videos related to Owens' work. Once you've seen it, help us keep the conversation going by telling us what you thought below.

Program Notes

Clifford Owens / Brooklyn Bred 2 (PDF)


Fireside Chat: The Artists of Brooklyn Bred 2 (BAM Blog)
Martha Wilson, Jibz Cameron (Dynasty Handbag), Clifford Owens, and Pablo Helguera talk performance art with Morgan Green.

"Artists in Conversation: Clifford Owens" (BOMB)
Owens talks about the invisibility of African American artists in discussions of performance art as the inspiration for his mega-work Anthology.

Using her Body (
Renee Cox, who appears in Clifford Owens' show, discusses the controversy surrounding her appropriation of iconic imagery.

"Artist Transforms Nude Bodies Into Kaleidoscopic Human Fractals" (Huffington Post)
Photographic art by Brooklyn Bred contributor Renee Cox.

Identities, Feminisms, and Collaborations (
A conversation with Brooklyn Bred 2 curator Martha Wilson.

Franklin Furnace’s Martha Wilson (BOMB)
The Brooklyn Bred curator recalls formative moments with Tristram Shandy, her first rejection, and making the world safe for avant garde art.


On Clifford Owens (YouTube)
An introduction to Clifford Owens featuring excerpts of his work.

Radical Presence Roundtable #2: Valerie Cassel Oliver and Clifford Owens (YouTube)
Owens sits down with the senior curator at Contemporary Arts Museum Houston.

Self-Portrait (revisited) (YouTube)
An excerpt from a work by Brooklyn Bred 2 artist Shaun Leonardo, performed at the School of Visual Arts.

Worthwhile Words

“There are a number of performance artists who appear as characters, personas, or archetypes, but that’s not the case with my practice. I tend to externalize. My performances are very audience-sensitive. When people experience my work, they are part and parcel of it. It’s not me but them portraying a character or persona or archetype. It’s just me, as an artist, trying to pull the audience into the work in a way that could be meaningful to them.”  —Clifford Owens

“In the canon of performance-art history, [African-Americans] just don’t exist. We’re invisible. The only artists who are part of the canon are the two usual suspects: David Hammons and Adrian Piper. It’s as if US black artists didn’t do any performance art at all since the ’50s…It’s like performance art history is fascinated with the white European body or with the black minstrel, but there’s never been any kind of serious scholarship or criticism devoted to conceptual, contemporary US black artists working in performance art. But it’s been happening since the ’50s, starting with Benjamin Patterson. [...] In this particular moment, there is so much interest in performance art, but we’re still absent from the conversation. Whenever I say I’m an artist and I’m asked what I do and I say I’m a performance artist, they ask if I dance or act.”  —Clifford Owens

Now your turn...

So how did you enjoy the show? Likes? Dislikes? Surprises? Tell us what's on your mind in the comments below.

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