Photo-based artist and filmmaker Lorna Simpson is considered one of the key representatives of Black-American visual culture. Emerging in the 1980s, Lorna Simpson was in 1993 the first African-American woman ever to show in the Venice Biennale and to have a solo exhibition in the ‘Projects’ series of The Museum of Modern Art in New York. She is also one of very few Black-American artists ever to have exhibited at Documenta, in 1987 and 2002.
Simpson’s well-known fragmented photographs combining images with fragments of text create mysterious, quiet works that reflect the silence of a portion of society – African-American women – rarely if ever represented in art.
Curator of Simpson’s Autumn 2002 exhibition at the Studio Museum, Harlem, New York, Thelma Golden talks about the artist’s shift from her signature photographic work to her recent, more filmic and sculptural art. In her Survey critic and scholar Kellie Jones places the work in the context of the history of African-American culture as well as the recent history of self-portraiture in art through photography and performance. Curator of Simpson’s film presentation at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, in 2002, Chrissie Iles analyses in her Focus the artist’s filmworks including a new work to be screened at Documenta 11 (2002). The artist’s fragmentary usage of speech is paralleled in her Artist’s Choice, an extract from Top Dog/UnderDog by contemporary African-American playwright Suzan Lori Parks, and reflected in her Artist’s Writings.