Fore artist spotlight
Jessica Vaughn (b. 1983)
b. 1983, Chicago, IL
Lives and works in New York, NY
Jessica Vaughn’s work acts and reflects on the social, political and labor histories of contemporary American cities. Vaughn uses photography, installation and the occasional choreographed performance as vehicles for activism.
Repurposed and Distributed (2012) allows viewers to take a copy of one of her prints. The idea of takeaways builds on a history of radical interventions within the museum, employed notably by Conceptual artist Felix Gonzalez-Torres. Once all of the reproduced materials have been taken, the work ceases to exist in its originally realized physical form. Left with only the idea of what the installation once was, viewers of her posters will only be left with her intellectual property.
Like pamphlets distributed on a street corner —an action Vaughn appropriated in the performance Fireball (2012)—the prints
from Re-Purposed carry the politics behind their production. Indeed, her images are rich with unexpected juxtapositions, as well as race and class implications: a tiara held overhead in front of the backlit menu of a Chinese food restaurant, a striped nylon tricolor flag leaning against aluminum siding, a banker’s box against a starry backdrop.
The casual associations between the objects present in Vaughn’s photographs allow viewers to engage the complex constructions of class and social order Vaughn critiques through an economy of visual language.
-Jamillah James, 2012 Curatorial Fellow, The Studio Museum in Harlem
images: a) Production of Space, 2012; b) Re-Purposed and Distributed (installation view), 2012 Photo: Adam Reich; c) Diamond, 2012