Kai Matsumiya presents a solo presentation by Elliott Jamal Robbins with a continuous loop of the video “Snow White Clapping” in the center part of the booth and his watercolor paintings titled “the walk cycle” series on the left and right walls. In the film, the artist fuses a series of frames from Disney’s Snow White with the hand-drawn, virtual armature of a black minstrel figure, and replaces the Christmas-festive background with a blank puse-grey, resulting in not just what appears to be the protagonist seemingly clapping in silence as a clinical patient, but bringing forth greater ambiguities between subject and identity, and also between viewer and gaze.
The “walk cycle series” reference American animation through the depiction of the body of a young black male as an animated walk cycle. The series is made with a process whereby each piece was painted with watercolor and then shot, with water, literally. They were inspired by the many news US headlines about the murder of black men at the hands of police. Reflecting on this body of work, the artist writes “In between semesters I spent most of my time in the studio and would always sit and listen to the news for a while. I started to draw comparisons between what felt like daily psychological micro-aggressions and a sense of isolation, being the only black male in my graduate program in a town with no visible black community… Unlike the bodies of Mike Brown and Philando Castile, the damage inflicted on this animated body does not impede his movement.”
The installation itself is inspired by Eadward Muybridge in the direct sense that the studies of physical movement instantiates itself. The gallery hopes the audience may witness certain features that are not just fixed in the horrors of the American experience, but can also convey a greater critical awareness about the many fraught circumstances and situations that require us to question what we all must confront.