Devin Kenny raises timely questions about the shape of racial politics and community in contemporary America, interrogating the interconnected dynamics of gentrification, displacement, and diaspora. For his first museum solo exhibition, Kenny encourages us to consider how the technologies that facilitate online communities and activism develop alongside the displacement and systemic oppression and marginalization of Black people in the US.
Much as his work does, Kenny’s exhibition title links together networks of disparate references. “Rootkits” are a form of computer virus that undetectably alter the underlying operating system; “rootwork” alludes to practices of Black-American folk magic, and both reference the DNA kits that allow people to explore their heritage. In more than a dozen works across a range of media—including some created for the exhibition—Kenny draws particular inspiration from network technologies, locating unsettling intersections of complicity and exploitation, which his work often resists. Employing the popular cultures of memes, music, fast fashion, and viral media, the artist subtly reveals ubiquitous and often invisible structures of injustice and exclusion.