Washington Project for the Arts Presents Being/Becoming: The Act of Portraiture

By Editorial Team on August 29, 2022

Sat, 10 September 2022 - Sat, 12 November 2022

Opening Reception: Saturday, September 10 from 7pm to 9pm


Washington Project for the Arts presents “Being/Becoming: The Act of Portraiture,” a group exhibition exploring the self. The project features newly commissioned work by five Black women and gender non-conforming artists, presented as performance-based, embodied self-portraits.

Artist-curator Yacine Tilala Fall began with the questions: What is visual emancipation? What does it look like? How do we radicalize Black visual language? She then invited artists Holly Bass, Renee Cox, Muse Dodd, Dominique Duroseau, and Marcelline Mandeng Nken to respond by using portraiture as an action, a movement, and a physical experience to explore these questions and their own presence. Through their work, they consider how intentional action may transgress limitations of concepts and disciplines. Their portraits are not fixed. They live, breathe, and transform—as we are all constantly becoming.

Fall describes Being/Becoming: The Act of Portraiture as an exercise of decentralization, embodied self recognition and collective wandering, “born out of a need and a dream for conceptual space away from the container of the White gaze.” The dream is simple: to break this container and allow Black artists to actively be and become.”

About Participating Artists

Holly Bass

Holly Bass is a multidisciplinary performance and visual artist, writer, and director. Her work has been presented at spaces such as the Kennedy Center, the Smithsonian Museums, the Seattle Art Museum, Art Basel Miami Beach, and the South African State Theater. Her visual artwork includes photography, installation, video, and performance. She is currently the national director for Turnaround Arts at the Kennedy Center, a program which uses the arts strategically to transform schools facing severe inequities. Bass has received numerous grants from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities and was a 2019 Red Bull Detroit artist-in-residence and a 2019 Dance/USA Artist Fellow. She is a 2020–22 Live Feed resident artist at New York Live Arts. Her video work and performance piece, American Woman, was selected for inclusion in the 2022 Outwin Triennial at the National Portrait Gallery.

Renee Cox

Renee Cox makes photographs, collages, and installations that invoke a critical vision of female sexuality, beauty, power, and heroism through nudity, religious imagery, and symbolism that inform her interdisciplinary process. She is most noted for her larger than life photographs of female bodies that reexamine the Black female figure in the context of structures of power. Cox’s work is a celebration of the spectrum of the Black female body. Her work challenges how women are seen respective to time, place, and the intangible spaces between representation and reality. Her work has been shown in solo and group exhibitions at institutions that include: Tate Liverpool, The New Museum of Contemporary Art, Brooklyn Museum, Harvard University, and Whitney Museum of American Art. She received the Artists Fellowship Award (New York Foundations for the Arts), The MacDowell Residency, and the Aaron Matalon Award (The National Gallery of Jamaica). She is an associate professor at Columbia University and has lectured at Yale College of Art, New York University, and Parsons School of Design.

Muse Dodd

Muse Dodd (they/them) is an anti-disciplinary artist, curator, and DJ. Their work centers on the questions: how do you remember and what do you choose to forget? Through the act of remembering, Muse uses their body to map the lived experience of Africans in America. Muse channels trauma to connect with, process and alchemize pain; both personal and collective through movement, ritual, and collective dreaming. Muse holds a BA in Film Production from Howard University and studied at the Film Academy in Prague. Muse was a 2020 Corrina Mehiel Fellow, a 2019–20 Leslie Lohman Museum Artist Fellow, and the 2019 DCAC Curatorial Fellow. A former Artist-in-Residence at the Flux Factory, they were also a 2018 Artist-in-Residence at the ARoS Museum in Denmark. Muse’s video work has been commissioned for performances at The Shed, Mabou Mines Theater, and Dixon Place. Muse has also screened and exhibited work at Lincoln Center, The BWI Marshall Airport, Prince George’s African American Museum and Cultural Center, The DC Arts Center, and The Flux Factory. Through their work, Muse hopes to create space for Black people to be free, if only for a frame.

Dominique Duroseau

Dominique Duroseau is a Newark-based artist, born in Chicago, and raised in Haiti. Duroseau’s interdisciplinary practice explores themes of racism, socio-cultural issues, and existential dehumanization. Her exhibitions, performances, and screenings have been presented at: PULSE Play, The Kitchen, Sculpture Center, El Museo del Barrio, A.I.R. Gallery, BronxArtSpace, Rush Arts Gallery, Smack Mellon, and The Newark Museum. She was a fellow at A.I.R. Gallery, and received artist residencies from Gallery Aferro, Index Art Center, Wassaic Project, Shine Portrait Studio, MASS MoCA, NARS Foundation, and Artists Alliance Inc. Duroseau is currently attending Yale University pursuing her MFA.

Marcelline Mandeng Nken

Marcelline Mandeng Nken uses performance, sculpture, video, and sound production to build and deconstruct mythologies drawing from early childhood experiences spent in her grandmother’s garden, kitchen, and powder room. These points of reference serve as blueprints into the history of a woman’s labor. The resulting installations employ surrealist strategies of layering abstractions and figurative representations to aid in the formation of interpersonal logic, relating themes of beauty and personal transformation, healing rituals in African spiritual systems and the construction of female subjectivity. Each performance becomes a rehearsal for the next as ephemeral moments are recontextualized for the continuation of a living archive. Marcelline Mandeng Nken received her BFA from Maryland Institute College of Art in 2015. She’s exhibited works and performances at The Kitchen in Manhattan, MoMA PS1 in Queens, The Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, Navel in LA and The Borscht Corporation in Miami and Macao Milano in Italy to name a few places.

About the Curator
Yacine Tilala Fall is an interdisciplinary conceptual artist. Using natural materials, she investigates concepts of heritage, ritual, and function through performance, sculpture, painting and installation. Inspired by her Senegalese and Mauritanian heritage, her work and practice speak to the human body and its entangled relationship with labor, history, and faith. Fall received a BFA from the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design in 2019 and is a current MFA candidate at Yale School of Art.

Washington Project for the Arts is located at 2124 8th St. NW.