DEPART Foundation presents new works by New York-based artist Chase Hall in Saturday-Mornings. A self-taught photographer, painter, and mixed-media artist, Hall uses his artwork as a platform through which to critically engage the visual history of racial bigotry in the United States. Looking to the imagery that has validated racism through the negative typification of African Americans, Hall reveals the persistence of its readily ingestible types and caricatures. Though often presented playfully in the media, these images, in the absence of positive or heroic alternatives, impress a diminished and negating range of available representations.
By revealing the role of images in the insistent misrepresentation of race, Hall confronts its visual archetypes from sources such as cartoons, film, children’s books, and advertising to stress the perpetuity of disinformation these images inculcate. Saturday-Mornings is presented in a new dedicated project space at Depart Foundation Malibu Village, marking Hall’s first solo exhibition in Los Angeles and the artist’s return to Malibu, the beach community where he spent part of his adolescence.
Hall was raised throughout the U.S and lived in Malibu as a teenager via Minnesota, Chicago, Las Vegas, Colorado, and Dubai. Now based in New York’s East Village, he works across a variety of media to articulate the reductive depictions of race and African American communities, looking to produce positive alternatives and optimistic engagements with this history. Striving to encourage a level of visual and racial literacy capable of understanding the painful inheritances of racism, Hall explores cultural narratives about “otherness” and identity that have long been disseminated uncritically through our visual culture.
The ubiquity of this imagery, and the facility with which it’s delivered through seemingly innocuous sources like children’s cartoons, commercial products, and entertainment media, is the focal point of Hall’s inquiry. A “Trojan Horse of racism,” in Hall’s words, these visual types are delivered comically, peripherally, and entertainingly, diffusing the segregating intent and effect of these portrayals. Looking at the history of these representations through the images that have reified them, Hall hopes to confront their negative effects through acknowledgment rather than disavowal.
The artist is best known for his poignant portraiture series. These photographs present candid and empathic representations of individual identity on the streets of New York, offering positive, iconoclastic, and countercultural depictions of the underdog. In contrast to these photographic works, in Saturday-Mornings Hall appropriates existing imagery, re-sensitizing his audience to the negative portrayal of African American identity in the media. Widely naturalized through historical reiteration, and absorbed from infancy by children, these portrayals function as cultural mechanisms to encourage segregation and perpetuate racial divides.
Saturday-Mornings presents a series of new paintings alongside a video work by Hall exploring
existing caricatural representations of African American identity from the present through the past. By looking to character types like the “mammy,” the “Uncle Remus,” the mistral, the jester, the addict, the puppet, or the fool, revealing just how widespread and available these ‘types’ have been in the visual landscape, Hall addresses the culturally impoverishing effect these impersonations have had on communities from within and without. Seldom depicted as hero or protagonist, the narratives available in the depiction of race are few.
By unpacking and re-appropriating some of the imagery that has perpetuated these sub-human
representations of African Americans, ultimately as visual justifications for prolonged racial inequity, Hall hopes to address the individual erasure and collective denial these images have enacted. By acknowledging the cultural legacy of misrepresentation, one that continues to infiltrate the media, Hall’s gesture of reclamation is a hopeful call for increased cultural cognizance and reparation.