American Artist

AMERICAN ARTIST (lives in Brooklyn, NY) is a multimedia artist who uses video, installation, new media, and writing to explore how anti-blackness operates within labor relations, networked life, and digital systems. Artist’s works shown here (I’m Blue, 2019, Blue Life Seminar, 2019 and blue are the words i say and what i think, 2019,) respond to the language and logic of racial justice movements co-opted by the Blue Lives Matter movement.

Click here for an interactive transcript of this interview

Blue Life Seminar Installation

Image of a television screen showing an animated a person with blue skin
Blue Life Seminar, 2019
HD video
19:31 minutes
Written by American Artist with text by Christopher Dorner, performed by Christopher Grant, animated by Matthew Mann and Tommy Martinez, and music by Greg Fox
Courtesy of the artist and Koenig & Clinton, New York

In American Artist’s computer-animated video Blue Life Seminar, the monologue spoken by the blue figure combines the words of Dr. Manhattan, the blue omnipotent super-being from Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’s graphic novel The Watchmen (1986–87) and Christopher Dorner, a former Los Angeles Police Department officer. In 2013, a manifesto Dorner wrote denouncing police racism and violence was widely circulated after he killed four people and wounded three others, including police officers and their families. In Blue Life Seminar, the combined dialogue offers a critique of the Blue Lives Matter movement, begun by police officers in response to Black Lives Matter activism. This movement has promoted a series of bills penalizing crimes against American law enforcement officers in similar ways to hate-crime legislation, equating “Blue lives” to “Black lives” and a chosen occupational path with a racial identity

Blue Life Seminar is shown with I’m Blue, a sculpture of a school desk with riot shield, and blue are the words i say and what i think, a blue-coated chalkboard. The three works compose a fortified classroom space that calls into question the ideologies and mindsets taught by law enforcement. In American Artist’s words, the artworks call attention to the “performative vulnerability” of a group that enforces state power.

Image of a school blue chair and desk with a blue shield attached
I’m Blue, 2019
School desk, hardware, ballistic shield,
navy blue fabric, and books
Courtesy of the artist
Image of a chalk board with surfaces covered in blue fabric
blue are the words i say and what i think, 2019
Aluminum, wood, hardware, and navy blue fabric
Courtesy the artist and Koenig & Clinton, NY. Photo by Jeffrey Sturges.

Keywords

Biography

Portrait of American Artist

AMERICAN ARTIST (b. 1989 Altadena, CA, lives and works in Brooklyn, NY) is an artist whose work considers black labor and visibility within networked life. Their practice makes use of video, installation, new media, and writing. Artist is a resident at Red Bull Arts Detroit and a 2018-2019 recipient of the Queens Museum Jerome Foundation Fellowship. They are a former resident of EYEBEAM and completed the Whitney Independent Study program as an artist in 2017. They have exhibited at the Museum of African Diaspora, San Francisco; the Studio Museum in Harlem; Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, and Koenig & Clinton, New York. Their work has been featured in The New York Times, Artforum, and Huffington Post. They have published writing in The New Inquiry and Art21. Artist is a part-time faculty at Parsons The New School and teaches at the School for Poetic Computation.