N-Prolenta, Barcode Nudes (Ally Theater), 2017 (still). Video, color, sound; 2:34. Courtesy the artist
This event marks the launch of “New Black Portraitures,” an online exhibition curated by Aria Dean, Assistant Curator of Net Art and Digital Culture at Rhizome. Part of First Look: New Art Online, copresented by Rhizome and the New Museum.
Working in sound, multimedia, and performance, the prolific Fayetteville, NC-based artist and musician N-Prolenta (Brandon Covington Sam-Sumana) creates process-driven works that wind through disparate histories and bodies of knowledge, sampling as they go to create unrecognizable assemblages. Their urgent and startling body of work delves into the deep entanglement of global trade, speculative finance, digital networks, and Blackness.
For Banana Island: Hublots (2017), N-Prolenta will compose a mixtape from a livestreamed, performative installation in an undisclosed location over the course of seven days. On the seventh day, they will perform the composition process in person in the New Museum Theater from 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m., followed by a final ticketed performance beginning at 7 p.m. The livestream will be available throughout the performance at rhizome.org.
Banana Island: Hublots (2017) explores Black precarity in the face of climate change against the backdrop of global financial capitalism, each day’s broadcast recalling the format of an IPO or token sale. The online audience is asked to remotely interact with N-Prolenta through this financialized structure, submitting gifts and donations, placing bids, and bearing witness to the artist’s voluntary confinement. Under the audience’s gaze, N-Prolenta will work in the rapid accumulative mode of a 3-D printer, prototyping rapidly, making errors, and iterating. This approach blurs the distinction between machinic and artistic production by placing an automated form of production in the hands of the historically commodified and objectified Black figure.
This work was commissioned by Rhizome and the New Museum for “First Look: New Black Portraitures,” an online exhibition launching October 25 that interrogates the genre of portraiture in relationship to Blackness, exploring the complexities and violences endemic to this territory.
Multimedia artist and producer Brandon Covington Sam-Sumana works to interrogate matters related to currency, transience, narrative structure, and system metabolism. Their investigations have spawned music projects, objects of generative design, and forays into speculative finance, video, and visual art. They were born in the mid-1990s in Fayetteville, NC.