Commonwealth and Council presents Black Satin, an exhibition of new work by David Alekhuogie, as part of Condo New York 2019 hosted by Company Gallery.
Flags mark our allegiance—to a tribe, a community, a nation-state—hence signifying a sense of belonging. But flags do not represent all of us and our values. In Black Satin, Alekhuogie reconstitutes the flag out of bodies disenfranchised, queering and reclaiming the flag for those who were left out.
In stitching together the images printed on canvas, Alekhuogie draws on the history of flag making (the legend of Betsy Ross designing and making the Star Spangled Banner) and pays tribute to the African-American quilting tradition. In the days of the Underground Railroad, members sewed secret messages—escape routes and safehouses—in quilts, and Alekhuogie’s coded and camouflaged compositions also nod to that history.
A shirt, flash of underwear, and low-slung pants form the bands of color for Alekhuogie’s flags. The images stem from his Pull-Up series, close-up photographs of the waist area that address sagging, a style associated with hip hop, gang culture, and black male masculinity, which has been politicized and at times criminalized as a pretext for racist persecution. With his cropped landscape-inspired compositions, Alekhuogie abstracts the bodies depicted, while at the same time literally representing marginalized bodies on these new flags.
David Alekhuogie (b. 1985, Los Angeles, CA; lives and works in Los Angeles, CA) received his MFA from Yale University and post-bac BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Alekhuogie’s multi-disciplinary art practice is centered around photography and examines the dialectical relationships between politics, race, gender, media, and power. He has had solo exhibitions at the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery (2019), Skibum MacArthur (2017) and at the Chicago Artist Coalition (2016). Alekhougie has participated in group shows at The High Museum (2017), Fraenkel Gallery (2015), and Regen Projects (2015). His work has been published in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Time Magazine, Timeout, Chicago, Vice, and The Los Angeles Times.