Thick as Mud explores how mud animates relationships between people and place through the work of eight contemporary artists: Dineo Seshee Bopape, Diedrick Brackens, Ali Cherri, Christine Howard Sandoval, Candice Lin, Rose B. Simpson, Eve Tagny, and Sasha Wortzel. Across multiple geographies, these artists engage mud as a material or subject that shapes personal and collective histories, memory, and imagination.
Both water and earth, mud exists in an in-
Drawing from her cultural heritage, Rose B. Simpson (born 1983, Santa Clara Pueblo, New Mexico; lives in Santa Clara Pueblo, New Mexico) adapts a centuries-
Eve Tagny (born 1986, Montréal; lives in Montréal) explores constructed landscapes as sites of embodied memory. Her installation for Thick as Mud employs performance video and sculpture—including architectural forms made from cob, a mud-
Mud transmits the memory of enslavement across time and place in the work of Dineo Seshee Bopape (born 1981, Polokwane, South Africa; lives in Johannesburg). Bopape’s Master Harmoniser (ile aye, moya, là, ndokh) is a recent video and sound environment made with soil and water collected from places that played historical roles in the transatlantic slave trade. Similarly, in Swamp Fat (2021), Candice Lin (born 1979, Concord, Massachusetts; lives in Los Angeles) plumbs mud as an archive that traces histories of race and citizenship. Utilizing clay harvested from Saint Malo, the site of an early Asian American community in the Louisiana bayou also previously inhabited by enslaved maroons and Indigenous people, Lin’s work evokes the transgressive possibilities of the swamp as a place of social fluidity.
Sasha Wortzel (born 1983, Fort Myers, Florida; lives in Brooklyn) engages the queer ecology of the swamp through the social and environmental histories of South Florida. Wortzel’s sculpture and audio artwork activates dimensions of desire, loss, and renewal entangled in the swamp, disrupting hierarchies of value associated with mud. So too does Diedrick Brackens (born 1989, Mexia, Texas; lives in Los Angeles) in his textiles, which integrate racial histories of the American South with his own personal mythology, reclaiming the catfish, a mud-
Across the artworks, mud becomes an agent of time and transformation and a medium of decomposition and creation. As such, Thick as Mud is an invitation to consider the ecological and narrative histories alive in the mud and to consider the possibilities for knowing differently that this material holds.
Thick as Mud is organized by Nina Bozicnik, Curator.
Exhibition 04 February -
work by Christine Howard Sandoval. Installation view, Thick as Mud, Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, Seattle, 2023. Photo: Jonathan Vanderweit.
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