Apr 26–Aug 11, 2019

Deborah Anzinger: An Unlikely Birth

Deborah Anzinger, An Unlikely Birth, 2018. Acrylic, mirror, and synthetic hair on canvas and polystyrene, 80 x 131 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Sargent's Daughters, New York.

On April 26, 2019, the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania (ICA) will present the first US solo museum exhibition of Jamaican artist Deborah Anzinger. An Unlikely Birth brings together sculpture, video, painting, and installation, combining both synthetic and living materials, to consider geographical, ecological, and spatial paradigms. The exhibition reveals how the artist disrupts existing relationships and hierarchies as they pertain to the politics of land, the body, and space. An Unlikely Birth is curated by ICA Whitney-Lauder Curatorial Fellow Daniella Rose King and will be on view through August 11, 2019.

Working at the intersection of black feminist thought, geography, and space while coalescing concerns Anzinger has long held, An Unlikely Birth explores a plethora of issues urgently facing our civilization—the environment, the economy, and human rights–and their aggressors, capitalism and globalization. Through the work on view, Anzinger offers intimate networks and alternative ways of being in the world as possible answers to these intersecting problems. Thinking through reproductive labor, the transference of energy, and sanctuary, the artist compounds these fields with the testimony of individuals from Jamaica as a means of re-centering marginalized voices.

The exhibition title, An Unlikely Birth, is taken from a major work in the exhibition and also speaks to the plantation as progenitor of capitalist economies, social organization, and environmental conditions, as well as the invisibility of reproductive labor. It is shown alongside a number of new commissions and works of varying scale. Located on ICA’s second floor gallery space, the installation explores themes of consumption and renewable energy, spectatorship, and participation. Botanicals and stand-ins for organic matter appear in paintings and other areas of the exhibition to troubling notions of
the ‘natural’ and gesture towards the more nuanced nature of our relationship to materials.

Speaking to the range of media Anzinger employs in her work, she states “The materials I bring into the paintings (aloe, polystyrene and mirrors) embody a more complicated understanding of existence and relation to the “other.” By presenting alternative narratives that challenge their traditional associations and meanings, such as transforming polystyrene into support systems for living plants, I attempt to share the envisioning of new, more equitable paradigms for value and space.”

The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue and will feature an essay by the curator and an interview with the artist. It is due to be released this spring.

Read the full press release here.

Curated by 2017-19 Whitney-Lauder Curatorial Fellow Daniella Rose King.
Support for this exhibition and for ICA’s Whitney-Lauder Curatorial Fellow Program has been provided by the Leonard & Judy Lauder Fund. Exhibitions at ICA are supported by Stephanie and David Simon.

Installation Views
Books & Editions
Deborah Anzinger: An Unlikely Birth book cover

Order your copy today from artbook.com!

On the politics of land, the body and space in multimedia and multidisciplinary works.

Jamaican artist Deborah Anzinger (born 1978) works at the intersection of Black feminist thought, geography and space to create sculptures, videos, paintings and installations combining synthetic and living materials. An Unlikely Birth compiles her material and conceptual experiments.

7.5 x 10 inches
ISBN 978-088454-152-3
Publication Date
Foreword by John McInerney. Texts by Danielle Purifoy and Daniella Rose King. Interview with Deborah Anzinger, Danielle Purifoy, and Daniella Rose King
Nontsikelelo Mutiti
Foreword by John McInerney. Texts by Danielle Purifoy and Daniella Rose King. Interview with Deborah Anzinger, Danielle Purifoy, and Daniella Rose King