When I first saw American artist Sondra Perry’s video, ‘Double-Quadruple-Etcetera-Etcetera’ (2013, you can watch it here) I was mesmerised by the frenetic energy and the thought came, ‘I wouldn’t mind cutting loose like that.”
But there’s a violent undercurrent that’s hard to ignore, and has nothing to do with cutting loose and expressing yourself freely.
Perry works with digital production and performance, foregrounding the use of new technologies to explore issues of identity, subjecthood, representation, and blackness. In ‘Double-Quadruple’, Perry used the content-aware function in Photoshop to mask most of the moving figure. She instructed the performer to ‘move around ferociously’. The program registers most of the image as background or wall-space, delegating the figure to a kind of erasure or abstraction, despite the thrashing movement signifiying an actual body. Applied frame by frame, the figure becomes a mini-whirlwind, the digital masking straightjackets the figure so that they appear to be trying to escape confinement. This fighting back is almost symbolic of the performer wanting to assert their presence in the face of being completely whited out - obliterated.
Perry currently has a solo exhibition “Typhoon coming on” at the Serpentine Sackler Gallery, London, until 20 May 2018. You can check out Perry's work at http://sondraperry.com.