On view at Smack Mellon until Sunday, May 2

UNDOING WHITE MESS

Drawing from his experience as a longtime public school teacher, jc lenochan’s work scrutinizes the way that history is taught, which narratives are given voice, and which ones are suppressed. In UNDOING WHITE MESS, lenochan employs a process of deconstructing objects and de-circulating institutional relics, posing a series of questions about the acquisition of knowledge. In this body of work, he reconfigures everyday commodities, such as books, furniture, and tools in order to rethink the way that they can be understood, to open up their potential meanings, and to initiate art’s transformative function. Through investigative research, drawing, riffs on traditional sculpture, and performance based installations, lenochan’s interests engulf ideas of re-appropriation of historical imagery and misrepresented educational lessons that possess an entrenched colonial mentality. 

This work delves deeply to expose and confront cultural bias, perceptions of otherness, and racial fabrications. A mural sized chalkboard drawing depicts a “de-racing machine,” which resembles an industrial factory for erasing racial perceptions. Sculptures made of books that explore the history and politics of race and class in this country are cemented shut. Growing out of this sculptural work is a new series of text paintings with block letters embossed into cement. The embedded messages confront the systems that have been built and continue to depend on white privilege. By challenging assumptions and recombining them with personal/historical narratives, lenochan’s work embodies Socratic methods of questioning and humor as a post-colonial pedagogical strategy for dismantling the manipulative perspectives of the dominant ideology. The artist asks, “What role has pedagogy played in shaping history and our current social condition or cultural climate?” In this way, lenochan continually engages the possibilities of critical discourse to rethink the canon of art history in order to create a new way of seeing the world as a new human in undoing whiteness.