Throughout her career, Simpson has nimbly shifted between performance, painting, photography, drawing, and moving image. A 2011 video, Momentum, features dancers costumed in all gold, from their garments to their body paint to their tinted afro wigs. Hair becomes a unifying element among pirouetting bodies of differing shapes and sizes.
Simpson has previously stated that the work was inspired by her own experiences performing ballet on stage as a child. As with much of her oeuvre, this film connects to an unspecified past. From invoking archival material to creating black-and-white imagery that mimics the spirit of a bygone era, Simpson more or less subtly embeds her art with a sense of history.
Some of Simpson’s collages situate the characters within more cosmic, timeless scenarios. In her “Earth and Sky” series, cut-outs of women’s heads swirl in what appear to be images of the galaxy appropriated from textbooks. The figures seem superhuman, near omnipotent. In other examples from this selection, Simpson merges women’s heads with depictions of gems and minerals. They become earthy, precious, and elemental all at once.
In the final series in the book, “Riunite & Ice,” Simpson’s collages all include the face of the same woman: regal, with glittering earrings and a collar necklace that appears to consist of massive diamonds. Her visage repeats across each work, sometimes topped with a picture of the mountains or the moon, other times with a diagram of another woman’s head or a mechanical contraption. The subject’s identity becomes mutable and expansive, open to innumerable possibilities.