Catalogue dedicated to a video
project on the practice of gospel mime within the African-American
church. This subject is an opportunity for Jemison to express her interest in language
and gesture, and on the discursive dimension of African American culture.
Born out of an interdisciplinary practice that insists upon a discursive investigation into African-American culture, Steffani Jemison's work forces open the limitations of language. In her video Sensus Plenior
(Latin for “Fuller Meaning”), produced for the Satellite Programme, Jemison's interest in language and gesture takes shape in black gospel mime. This practice of using mime to interpret gospel songs has developed within the African-American church for twenty-five years. The video opens with the figure of Reverend Susan Webb, leader of the Master Mime Ministry of Harlem, who appears before us in a state of contemplative rehearsal. Focusing solely on Webb's silent performance, the video expands Jemison's interest in wordlessness, the quiet out of which action, affirmation and resistance emerge.
Emerging from Jemison's interest in silent cinema
, Sensus Plenior
opens a new line of enquiry into the profound influence of mime on the conventions around the performance of the self and the limits of speech at the turn of the 20th century. The artist complicates the boundaries of performance and cinema, allowing the audience to become suspended outside structures of linear time and controlled meaning. Resisting the psychologically developed character of modern cinema, the performers reserve the freedom to behave unpredictably, thereby drawing attention to the distinction between black private life and black public life.
Published in conjunction with Steffani Jemison's exhibition at the Jeu de Paume and at the CAPC, this book includes an introduction by the curator, Osei Bonsu, and a conversation between the artist and the writer Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts around their experience of gospel mime. This publication also reproduces a note by Jemison and unpublished drawings by the artist deploying a repertoire of gestures by Reverend Susan Webb.
Published on the occasion of the eponymous exhibition at CAPC musée d'art contemporain de Bordeaux, from September 7 to November 12, 2017, and at Jeu de Paume, Paris, from October 17, 2017, to January 21, 2018.
The Jeu de Paume's Satellite program devoted to contemporary art was initiated in 2007. In 2017, the Jeu de Paume and the CAPC musée d'art contemporain de Bordeaux are jointly organizing the tenth in this series of exhibitions, which from the outset have been entrusted to curators of international renown (Fabienne Fulchéri, María Inés Rodríguez, Elena Filipovic, Raimundas Malašauskas
, Filipa Oliveira, Mathieu Copeland
, Nataša Petrešin-Bachelez, Erin Gleeson, and Heidi Ballet).
While being rooted in the medium of film
, the latest series, called “The Economy of Living Things” and curated by Osei Bonsu, will take on an interdisciplinary program inviting performative and site-specific encounters with the moving image. Opening with Ali Cherri
and closing with Jumana Manna
, Satellites 10 will is oriented towards the tradition and preservation of histories as containers of living memory. Such encounters will open the space for the elaboration of temporality by Steffani Jemison and Oscar Murillo
whose formal practices emphasize the poetics of physical gestures informed by wider socio-economic conditions such as industrial factories, urban high-streets and public parks.
Each exhibition is accompanied by a publication that was conceived as a carte blanche for the artists. This series of books, each of which was created in close collaboration with a graphic design agency, forms an independent artistic space within the Satellite programme.
Steffani Jemison (born 1981 in Berkeley, California, lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.) uses time-based, photographic
and discursive platforms to explore “progress” and its alternatives. Building on a practice that places African American history and culture
at the intersection of Conceptual Art
, Jemison's work considers how inherited visual strategies both limit and expand our access to history more broadly.
She holds an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2009) and a BA in Comparative Literature from Columbia University (2003). She has participated in artist residencies at Smack Mellon, Brooklyn; the International Studio and Curatorial Program, Brooklyn; Project Row Houses, Houston; and the Core Program at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. In 2015, she presented her new multipart commission Promise Machine at the Museum of Modern Art.
Jemison's work has been exhibited nationally and internationally at venues including the Brooklyn Museum; the Drawing Center; LAXART; the New Museum; the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Art; the Studio Museum in Harlem; Laurel Gitlen; and Team Gallery.