Member Spotlight: Allana Clarke

Allana Clarke’s work speaks to discomfort.

“I, a first generation Trinidadian immigrant, perceived as African American, did not understand the nuances of racial politics in American culture. I wasn’t raised by the burdens or concept of blackness. But the burden was placed on my public self. This friction made me aware of the daily performances of our categorical existences, and the cultural signifiers we activate through our bodies and align ourselves with. It binds us. Is it possible to un-align signs from their signifiers? and embrace the disorientation caused by such an action? This ideological thread is the basis for my work. Fluidly moving through video, sculpture, printmaking, photography, and performance the research aspects of my practice incorporates colonial, post-colonial, cultural criticism, political, and art historical texts. Searching to feed my obsession with this idea of being unbound, of being more than my body.
Ironically, I must look to my body if I want to escape its limitations. This is one reason I include my body in my work. Although the images a present coops the dynamics of voyeurism it does engage with spectacle. For that reason I mostly reveal my presence on video. I present my body but it is a simulacra. I am removed, safe, with the added benefit of being able to watch you, while you watch me (on a screen). My current interest is in using performance and language to dissect the anxiety caused by our perception of spatial compression through the fracturing of how we understand time and speed and the binary of individual and collective consciousness via the performance of cultural signifiers.”


Tell us a little about your background and your trajectory as an artist/ scholar.

It’s a bit serendipitous that I’m an artist. I didn’t grow up in a particularly artistic household nor do I really have any memories of visiting museums or galleries, those were not institutions that were a part of my upbringing but for some strange reason, I was being drawn to this form of expression. So I decided to majored in photography at Queensborough Community College, which seemed like a tangible entrance into a world that I knew nothing about. I took classes with a passionate professor Jules Allen who really gave me the love I have for photography. Making gave me the ability to look at the world with analytical contemplation which is not something I knew I could do. I say all of this as a way to point to something. To point to notions of access, resources, modalities, opportunities, experiences all dictated by systems that function in a delocalized ephemeral manner meant to keep bodies of color in the margins. Systems that no one currently living created, but, paradoxically continue to keep alive by consciously & unconsciously performing in certain ways.


You Belong to Nothing Nothing Belongs to you Video 2018

What are some of your main influences?

I’m often inspired by writers: Maggie Nelson, Chantel Mouffe, Homi Bhabha, bell hooks. I recently was an interdisciplinary performance work by Netta Yerushalmy entitled Paramodernities, which is hands down one of the most amazing works of art I have ever experienced in my life.


New Media is …….

A way of making that transcends any singular media. It’s freedom, can operate outside of the confines of art the market


What is your typical day like?

Well I don’t think I have a typical day. If I am not teaching or prepping for class I (hopefully) am making time for my personal art practice. Working in an interdisciplinary manner requires a multitude of skills and methodologies, so one day I am just reading and researching the next I’m melting down 100lbs of cocoa butter or editing video works. The particular project I’m working on dictates what my days look like.

Who Would You Be

What are you working on now?

I’m currently working on an interdisciplinary project entitled Of My Longing & My Lack. A theater in the round, fourth wall breaking, interdisciplinary performance in three parts examining familial relationships; specifically within African American female-headed households between mothers and daughters, cultural trauma, and Afro-Futurist possibilities of being. Emerging from a deeply personal reflection upon matrilineal relationships, specifically within African-American female-headed households, cultural trauma, and Afro-Futurist

possibilities of being these works explore ideas of intergenerational lovelessness, the failure of Black liberation and Western Feminist discourses to acknowledge the precocity of black and brown women, and the collision of the nuanced individual self with the collective identity. Using, as its point of departure, the experiences of women of color within an American cultural context to deconstruct the systems that organize and prioritize certain bodies over others.

An Incomplete Recollection of Memories associated with my being and how I forgot them

Do you have a collaborative idea that you want to get off the ground?

The project I described in the previous question will definitely be a large collaborative work that will require many more people besides myself to bring to fruition.

Reval in Discomfort VI
Digital Print

What is the most recent thing you’ve learned?

How the electoral college works