Current HATCH Resident Cameron Clayborn discusses his show "Bawdy" at Boyfriends gallery with Miles Jackson. Find an excerpt of the conversation below and the full conversation at Chicago Artist Writers:
Miles Jackson: Let’s first talk about the exhibition’s centerpiece.
Cameron Clayborn: I call it “Coagulate 1” or “Coagul-ate 1”, it’s like ‘Car-a-mel’ or ‘Car-mel’, you can say it however you want. Coagulate means to stiffen, it usually relates to blood thickening inside your veins, if something coagulates it becomes hard. A lot of the terminology I use to name my pieces are either completely vague and formalist or relate back to the body. In thinking about the forms as solid objects, in building them up, and making them solid with sand, it made sense to bring them back to the body with a reference to the inside’s stiffening. Making the larger ones was a real physical feat. The coordination is one thing, any artist deals with coordination, but there was so much physicality in getting them to stand straight each time. I had to pull it down and heave it up.
MJ: Totally, at the opening I found myself considering their weight as one of the many iterations of the body that can be found in the show. The sand creates its own weight, but also points back to its maker’s muscles, your physicality in the process of filling. Once they become larger, more of your muscles are engaged, like a growing child almost.
MJ: The center pieces are simultaneously phalluses and whole beings, love handles and personalities, little characters next to each other.
CC: Or even a larger person that I have to carry and maneuver around. Here, I think the objects start to drift into the political or social realm, it gets into the care of a black body.
MJ: For you, are these layers of reference to the body are all linked to blackness? Or in some places do the bodies exist in an exclusively material sense, like fat or bone, and not in a socio-political way. Can these even be separated?
CC: I was thinking about this even today. I think it’s both of them. I think the social-political and the material become inseparable. Often when I’m approaching making these things I think about my research. I’m obsessed with animism, things having souls, things that are inanimate being animated through me. If I think about what a black thing is, a black body, a black object in space, then it becomes so much about substance and material. The political part is inherent – but it becomes more interesting for me to think about what that substance is and how it’s created. I’m not ignoring the fact that they are brown like my skin when I render them into the Object /Furniture things.
I also think they are transported into a sexual realm too. I love to investigate that realm. To me, it’s vital to the objects that you see in the show. Not only am I thinking about the black body in space, but also me as an individual, as a person, what my black body does sexually, my way of seeing things. This is where the picture of Caleb comes into play. In and out (frame 1) the one where Caleb is tying his shoe, that work was an exercise in thinking about my relationship to other bodies being a gay man, sexually or otherwise. The strong white male is a dominant image in gay culture. Is that image something that I still believe in or not? What are the bodies that I’m attracted to? It becomes an introspective way of working.