Michael Adno's current exhibition, Cracker Politics, The Limits of Colonial Knowledge, will be the focus of a panel moderated by Ann Albritton, professor of contemporary art history at Ringling College, on Wednesday, Jan. 18 at 6:30 p.m. at Art Center Sarasota. (For reservations, email email@example.com.)
We asked Adno about the exhibition and the panel.
How did this project evolve and why does it speak to you?
It began as a way to better understand where I was from, because I am a first generation American born to parents who had little to no relationship to the South other than a home address. From there, it became an all-encompassing, years-long project that has taught me so much about the state, myself, my country, my sense of heritage, and ultimately what it means to belong.
Tell us more about your background.
My father is from Brakpan, South Africa, and my mother is from Vienna, Austria. I was born in St. Petersburg, Florida, and have spent most of my life in Sarasota, and I’m really grateful for that, as I love this place dearly. I’ve lived in New York City for the past four years, so I think I tended to think about home and what that ultimately meant. Coming from a mixed background led me to think about of all of this and to try to establish a bit more of a connection to Florida–to home.
Describe a few of the works in the show—what artistic elements they’re composed of and the process and vision behind them.
The show is dense. It’s almost entirely photography, and it’s a small sliver of what I’ve worked on over the last three years. It’s unconventional in that there are few framed works, and the majority of the photographs are hinged to the wall in an unorthodox way. Ultimately, they amount to only part of a narrative that I’ve assembled since beginning this project, and I hope that it alludes to a more fluid, layered, and textured sense of the ways in which we relate to our own histories and sense of place. Above all else, they’re photographs that work together cumulatively, or that I’d like to be understood cumulatively.
How does Florida figure into the show?
This work has led me to look more closely at our state’s history, its contemporary political climate, and those who work to abate or abet its demons. That has spanned inquiries about promoting certain historic sites while others are left to disappear. Communities can play an immensely important role in the preservation of their historic cultural sites, and I hope the show helps to advocate for establishing a visual, aural, and literal record of these considerations, which can range from photographs and installations to longform journalism.
What makes the show especially relevant now?
I want to open up some space for reiterating the unresolved legacy of racial subjugation in our country and highlighting the disjuncture among our country’s electorate. I think much of the work speaks to national threads we’re all concerned about day in and day out.
How does the topic of the panel relate to your work, and what role can long-form journalism play in contemporary art?
As an artist, I found myself working in the way that a journalist would, and then I had the opportunity to begin writing for magazines, which was a random, serendipitous moment. That has become one of the most productive challenges for me, to work both visually and on the page. I definitely plan to speak a bit about that and how I think each has its own advantages. I hope the conversation speaks to some of the differences, the history of the two mediums, and how the two inform each other. I’m looking forward to having the conversation with such a thoughtful group of people, and I’m fortunate to have that opportunity here in Sarasota, my home town.