21C Durham: Dress Up, Speak Up: Costume and Confrontation


Beverly McIver, Past Tense, 2016, oil on canvas.

Beverly McIver, Esbenshade Professor of the Practice of Visual Arts, will be part of a new exhibition at 21 C Durham, Dress Up, Speak Up: Costume and Confrontation.

Featuring painting, sculpture, photography, video and film, the exhibition will be on view through June 2017 and includes works by twenty-five artists from more than a dozen countries. Bedecked and bejeweled, the figures populating Dress Up, Speak Up occupy fluid space and time, evoking past and present, fact and fiction, memory and desire, to illuminate the complexity of contemporary identity.

Whether clad in the stylized garb of Enlightenment-era Europe, the traditional coverings of ancient religious tradition, or the gender-bending bling of popular culture, these representations of self and other role-play in real time, reaching back through history to address prevailing personal, social, and political challenges. From Ebony G Patterson's families, dancers, gangstas, and deceased, to the philosophers, dandies, and faerie conjured by Yinka Shonibare M.B.E., to portraits derived from allegory, autobiography, and the art canon by Titus Kaphar, Berni Searle, Erwin Olaf, Vivek Vilasini, Fahamu Pecou, and others, this pantheon of provocative and prophetic personages are costumed to enact and confront the legacy of embedded experience.

To celebrate the opening of Dress Up, Speak Up, a reception will be held from 6-8 PM on September 17. At 6:30 PM there will be opening remarks by 21C Museum Director and Chief Curator Alice Gray Stites, followed by a special lecture by McIver, at 6:45pm. The event is free and open to the public.