As part of MoMA’s online exhibition Companion Pieces: New Photography 2020, we’re introducing the work of one participating artist per week, from September 28 through November 16. This week focuses on the work of David Alekhuogie. The audio recordings below are excerpted from Zoom conversations between curator Lucy Gallun and the artists.
David Alekhuogie (American, born 1986) gives his photography students an assignment: Travel around your community and document the parts of the landscape you feel you’re impacting and are impacted by. He also completed the assignment himself. He brought multiple prints of his photograph of a closely cropped Black male body—the image is legible only as layers of clothing—out onto the Los Angeles city streets, pinned them to lampposts or trees at significant points, and re-photographed them. Some were photographed at sites that resonated in the city’s history, others at sites of personal traumatic memories. By inserting his own photographs in the landscape, he saw himself as augmenting rather than rewriting history. Here were the places across the city that had shaped the development of his own identity. He was drawing a map of his own relationships to this place.
He also saw the body as a landscape. The photographs he brought outside, part of his Pull Ups series, might initially be read as abstract color fields or bands in various shades of gray, though they are essentially fields of fabric: shirt, underwear, pants. Low-slung pants have for many years been a symbol of Black masculinity, a symbol of the ways in which both desire and politics have been played out on bodies that are perceived as Black and male. The notion of the body becoming an emblem is an idea that Alekhuogie also explores in his textile works, where repeated images become the design for a flag, or images are stitched together to form a vibrant pattern.
From left: David Alekhuogie. LA convention center 34.0403° N, 118.2696° W. 2018; florence and normandie chevron 33.9745° N, 118. 3006° W. 2018
David Alekhuogie. GRAVITY. 2018
From left: David Alekhuogie. rancho cucamonga 34.1064° N, 117.5931° W. 2018; echo park 34.0782° N, 118.2606° W. 2018; compton cvs 33.8958° N, 118.2201° W. 2018
David Alekhuogie. Pull_Up g,o,r. 2017
David Alekhuogie. Target. 2019
David Alekhuogie. Out of Sight. 2019
David Alekhuogie. Portrait for George 1 of 3. 2020
Explore further in our free online course Seeing Through Photographs.