Originally published on YELP on 23 May 2016:
At Open Engagement (hosted by the Oakland Museum of California last month), members of the Black Salt Collective shared works that result in atmosphere rather than border-bound notions of land. Through their work and talk, Sarah Sass Biscarra-Dilley, Grace Rosario Perkins, and Adee Roberson explore(d) identity as atmosphere that is not based on land: ownership of it, belonging to it.
"We don't come from cultures that are about ownership. The commodification of ideas, this is built on stolen land and labor," Sarah Sass Biscarra-Dilley articulated as she explained how her work intersects with her cultural roots. "I was raised as a visitor," yet so often relationships to land are guided by modes of entitlement, ownership and belonging.
For Grace Rosario Perkins, the formal elements of abstract painting express how she experiences identity: "Im trying to map shifting relations to land and identity, and I'm not interested in dominant culture. That's why I use abstraction." Thus an obscured gaze becomes a method of resistance that requires new ways of forming meaning and connection.
Adee Roberson discussed the migration of a drum as a self portrait, demonstrating how the ephemerality of music illuminates the shifting, contingent nature of how we simultaneously create and receive heritage.
Together they seek - through their work as a collective - "to create a platform to bring people up together." And it is because of this resistance to ego-based production that the contemporary art world - even the rapidly-commodifying realm of social practice - has much to learn from the Black Salt Collective. Check out their work and keep it movin'. XO