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ARTE: Samuel Levi Jones: Unbound at the Studio Museum in Harlem

Samuel Levi Jones opens at the Studio Museum in Harlem March 26th with a solo exhibition titled Unbound.

For Unbound, Jones presents four new works that are his largest yet, and utilize law textbooks disassembled into their structural components. Spines and covers form wall-to-wall painting-like works mounted on canvas or adhered directly to the wall (UnboundJaded and Don’t Feel Right), and pages are processed and molded into an assemblage (Reformation). In the three wall works, form and materiality are emphasized, while function and value are called into question—the books have been stripped of authoritative identity. These works engage recent criticism of the law and the justice system with respect to human rights and social welfare.

Reformation differs from the other works but displays a similar theme of destruction in service of newly imagined forms. Jones took pages from the books—literally, their content—and processed them in an industrial pulping machine. He then slowly dried the wet, shredded paper mixture in shipping crates, which transformed the pulpy gray matter into a large, solid mass. The weight, illegibility and presence of the installation suggest the metaphorical burden of the law, in which those not educated in legal procedure or jargon must face the impenetrability of the legal system. Jones points out the inaccessibility of some forms of knowledge, and strives to create an inclusive space by rendering indeterminate the authority that such knowledge appears to confer.

Samuel Levi Jones: Unbound is organized by Naima J. Keith, Associate Curator.

Detail of Jaded, 2015 mixed media on canvas 92in x 117.5in

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