Up and Coming: EJ Hill Channels the Emotional Power of Endurance Art
Photo: Sasha J. Mendez
Image rights: The Studio Museum in Harlem; purchase with funds provided by the Acquisition Committee 2016.34
The Window and the Breaking of the Window at The Studio Museum in Harlem, November 17, 2016–March 5, 2017. The Window and the Breaking of the Window is organized by Amanda Hunt.
EJ Hill’s endurance performances and installations, such as those staged during his 2015-16 residency at the Studio Museum in Harlem, often have deep personal roots—“I’ve been storing these experiences in my body since childhood,” Hill has said. In his work, Hill often pushes himself to the point of exhaustion—both emotionally and physically—in order to make visible the daily difficulties of living in a queer, Black body. Hill draws in audiences with deft displays of both vulnerability and strength; in A Monumental Offering of Potential Energy (2016), the artist reclined face-down at the base of a roller coaster sculpture until the end of each day, when he rose to go home. While his prone posture evoked all-too-familiar images of Black male victims of violence, he realized the “potential energy” to transcend victimization daily when he stood up and left unharmed.