Christina Quarles

Legibility teeters on the edge of lack and excess—when we lack information about a thing, it is vague. However, as information accumulates, the risk for contradiction increases and legibility tips into ambiguity. As a Queer, cis-woman who is Black but is often mistaken as white, I engage with the world from a position that is multiply situated. My project is informed by my daily experience with ambiguity and seeks to dismantle assumptions of our fixed subjectivity through images that challenge the viewer to contend with the disorganized body in a state of excess.

In this work, contour lines, and the emphasis on both the surface and the edge of the frame are analogous to the edge of the body. For example, in the installation “It’s Gunna Be All Right, Cause Baby There Ain’t Nuthin’ Left,” what appears to be pictures hanging on the wall are in fact two-dimensional, painted trompe l’oeil illusions. Just as the edge of the canvases in this installation are illusory, so too are the boundaries that demarcate the self.

The contradiction of my Black ancestry coupled with my fair skin, results in my place always being my displace. Throughout my paintings, there are perspectival planes that both situate and fragment the bodies they bisect—location becomes dislocation. Fixed categories of identity can be used to marginalize but, paradoxically, can be used by the marginalized to gain visibility and political power. This paradox is the central focus of my practice.