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Catalogue to the exhibition Swarm at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, June 30, 2018-September 9, 2018, curated by Laurel McLaughlin and Mechella Yezernitskaya (graduate students, History of Art, Bryn Mawr College).
The work of artists Didier William (b. 1983) and Nestor Armando Gil (b. 1971) beckons viewers, as an imperative, to physically and intellectually “swarm” conceptions of colonialism in order to disarm such narratives of power. The artists’ mixed media practices in printmaking, painting, collage, sculpture, installation, and performance are inflected by their Haitian and Cuban heritages as well as the diasporic communities they call home in the United States.
Didier William, born in Haiti and active in the United States, is a painter and printmaker, whose work critiques the historical narratives of colonialism through strategies of mythmaking. Nestor Armando Gil was born to Cuban immigrants in Florida and currently resides in the United States. His work examines movement, memory, and loss within diasporic communities in sculpture and performance.
Their experiential works provide encounters with constructed and imaginary histories of immigration. Together, their work allows for an inclusive viewing experience that disables the divisive logic of “we” versus “them” embedded within past and current discussions of immigration. Rather than adhering to previous historical outcomes, William and Gil investigate the processes of building community across diaspora, dislocation, and relocation.
This exhibition will take place in the Historic Landmark Buildings and is accompanied by public programming and an online publication featuring interviews with the artists and curatorial notes.
McLaughlin, Laurel, and Mechella Yezernitskaya, Didier William, Nestor Armando Gil/Taller Workshop: Swarm. Philadelphia: Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 2018.