This installation summons the presence of Brad Johnson (American, 1952–2011), a Black gay poet whose “embrace of violence, sex, cruising, and, more importantly, his investment in love” shaped his work, McClodden writes. To make the installation, the artist, who saw her own experience reflected in Johnson’s writings, immersed herself in the poet’s archive. She has filled the gallery with objects that relate to his biography and sexuality: rose petals, naval paraphernalia, and leather objects used in BDSM (bondage, domination, sadism, masochism) play, among other items.
In the central video, McClodden hangs upside down in her studio while reciting “On Subjugation,” a 1988 poem by Johnson. “For me, the experience of pain through BDSM has often been a form of self-care that lets me know where I can and cannot go with my body,” McClodden says. “This is important to me in a society that . . . places such severe restrictions on the Black body.” Using her figure as a medium, she pays tribute to Johnson’s ideas in the present.