(Never) As I Was marks the third year of the multiyear partnership between The Studio Museum in Harlem, The Museum of Modern Art, and MoMA PS1, featuring new work by the 2020–21 artist in residence cohort: Widline Cadet (b. 1992, Pétion-Ville, Haiti), Texas Isaiah (b. Brooklyn, NY), Genesis Jerez (b. 1993, Bronx, NY), and Jacolby Satterwhite (b. 1986, Columbia, South Carolina).
In response to the seismic impacts of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, for the first time in the Museum’s history the artists participated entirely remotely for the duration of the residency. With practices spanning new media, painting, sculpture, and photography these artists propose dynamic ways of experiencing time, space, and locality set into this current moment of complex transformation.
Widline Cadet’s photo and video work examines intergenerational memory, selfhood, and erasure within the diasporic experience. Texas Isaiah offers a space for mourning, celebration, prayer, and remembrance, asserting the significance of imagination in the abolition of gender while exploring the healing capacity of rest as a place of connection. Genesis Jerez’s collaged paintings layer family photographs, oil paint, and charcoal to create works that interrogate her own personal histories and reckon with questions of diasporic fracture. Jacolby Satterwhite’s multidimensional installation sees the artist’s return to painting, engaging fantasy and surrealism as a coping mechanism for healing and flaying open an existential psychic space for imagining transcendent futures. With communication deeply mediated by the digital, each artist took on the challenge of recharting the territories of domestic, social, and studio space. The outcomes are tender and lyrical explorations of family histories, memoir, spirituality, and memory. In reflecting on their private pasts, these artists have created works that look toward what collectively lies ahead, to a world that is at once achingly the same and never as it was.