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Kandis Williams is a visual artist whose practice spans collage, sculpture, film, performance, writing, publishing, and curating. She explores and deconstructs critical theory around race, nationalism, authority, and eroticism. Her work examines the body as a site of experience while drawing upon her background in dramaturgy to envision spaces that accommodate the varied biopolitical economies, which inform how form and movement might be read. Williams establishes indices that network parts of the anatomy, regions of Black diaspora, as well as communication and obfuscation, relaying how popular culture and myth are interconnected. The artist is also the founder and editor-at-large of Cassandra Press, an artist-run publishing and educational platform producing lo-fi printed matter, classrooms, projects, artist books, and exhibitions. The platform’s intention is to disseminate ideas, distribute new language, propagate dialogue-centering ethics, aesthetics, femme driven activism, and black scholarship.

Kandis Williams (b. 1985, Baltimore, MD) lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. She received her BFA from The Cooper Union, New York, NY in 2009. Williams has presented solo exhibitions at 52 Walker, New York, NY; the Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA; Night Gallery, Los Angeles, CA; and Cooper Cole, Toronto, Canada, among others. In 2021, Williams was the recipient of the prestigious Mohn Award, honoring artistic excellence. Her work has been featured in group exhibitions at institutions such as The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, Germany; Julia Stoschek Collection, Berlin, Germany; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA; Frye Art Museum, Seattle, WA; The Huntington Library, Los Angeles, CA; The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY; and The Underground Museum, Los Angeles, CA. Williams’s work is included in numerous public collections such as the Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA; and Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, MD, among others.

Artworks

Kandis Williams
Triadic Ballet, 2021 (excerpt)
Single-channel video with sound
9 minutes and 10 seconds
Edition of 3 plus 2AP
Courtesy the artist and 52 Walker, New York

Kandis Williams
Lines of Contemplation: bitter, tense, angry, reserved, tormented (in thought) for Black and White, marble, bronze, and flesh, 2021
Xerox collage and ink on paper
48 × 48 inches, unframed
(121.9 × 121.9 cm, unframed)
Courtesy the artist and 52 Walker, New York

Kandis Williams
Hyper-interpretation—to be seated—figures sexualized and anonymized at rest, en largesse to stereotyping distribution, 2021
Xerox collage and ink on paper
64 × 47.625 inches, unframed
(162.6 × 121.1 cm, unframed)
Courtesy the artist and 52 Walker, New York

Kandis Williams
Line Intersection Sublimation: Uptown Downtown satisfactions of Swan Lake, east west Pavlova to Mezentseva, Madonna Whore Balanchine to Dunham, 2021
Xerox collage on paper
48 × 48 inches, unframed
(121.9 × 121.9 cm, unframed)
Courtesy the artist and 52 Walker, New York

Kandis Williams
The measurement erases humanness just as it enacts it, for the deadweight signals the unfolding of modernity and collective human lives alongside, rather than prior to or after, the biological determinant is posed. Diachronic loops/deadweight tonnage/bad made measure, 2021
Xerox collage and ink on paper
66 × 48 inches, unframed
(167.6 × 121.9 cm, unframed)
Courtesy the artist and 52 Walker, New York

Kandis Williams
A Stack—swans, lovers, gods; costuming is the most static aspect of social order, 2021
Xerox collage on paper
66 × 52 inches, unframed
(167.6 × 132.1 cm, unframed)
Courtesy the artist and 52 Walker, New York

Kandis Williams
Triadic Ensemble: stacked erasures, Russes de Monte Carlo, Harlem Dance, Wigman and Duncan, 2021
Xerox collage and ink on paper
66 × 52 inches, unframed
(167.6 × 132.1 cm, unframed)
Courtesy the artist and 52 Walker, New York

Kandis Williams
Notes for Stage, Cult, and Popular Entertainment according to place, person, genre, speech, music, and dance, 2021
Xerox collage and ink on paper
48 × 48 inches, unframed
(121.9 × 121.9 cm, unframed)
Courtesy the artist and 52 Walker, New York

Kandis Williams
Black Box, 4 points: Wading in water, Archipelago, Myth, Revelations—B. Gottschild principle—muffled lines and ruptures—hyper-interpretation of Africanist presence(s), 2021
Xerox collage and ink on paper
41.5 × 29.5 inches, unframed
(105.4 × 74.9 cm, unframed)
Courtesy the artist and 52 Walker, New York

Kandis Williams
Black Box, 4 points: Horton, Ailey, McKayle contractions and expansions of drama from vernacular—arms outstretched and entangle, 2021
Xerox collage and ink on paper
41.5 × 29.5 inches, unframed
(105.4 × 74.9 cm, unframed)
Courtesy the artist and 52 Walker, New York

Kandis Williams
Black box, 4 points: Kitt, Primus, Leaping and Falling, 2021
Xerox collage and ink on paper
41.5 x 29.5 inches
(105.4 x 74.9 cm)
Courtesy the artist and 52 Walker, New York

Kandis Williams
Triadic Ballet still, 2021
Eleven-color screenprint on Ebony Colorplan paper
13 x 19 inches, unframed
(33.0 x 48.3 cm, unframed)
Edition of 38 plus 3AP plus 1PP
Courtesy the artist and 52 Walker, New York

Kandis Williams
Eurydice, 2018-21 (excerpt)
Two-channel video with sound
20 minutes and 37 seconds
Edition of 3 plus 1AP
Courtesy of the artist and Morán Morán

Kandis Williams
Genes, not Genius: For jazz is orgasm, it is the music of orgasm, good orgasm and bad, and so it spoke across a nation, it had the communication of art even where it was watered, perverted, corrupted, and almost killed, it spoke in no matter what laundered popular way of instantaneous existential states to which some whites could respond, it was indeed a communication by art because it said, “I feel this, and now you do too.” Virtuosity is bound to colorism, tokenism, trophyism, and the ruptures of interraciality on legacies of rape and social distortion of dark skin, reverse colorism is not real. The importance of dance in courtship and social gatherings is probably older than its use as recreation and entertainment, 2021
Collage on artificial plant, fabric grow bag with moss, acrylic paint, and plastic
92 × 40 × 20 inches
(233.7 × 101.6 × 50.8 cm)
Courtesy the artist and 52 Walker, New York

Kandis Williams
Genes, not Genius: For jazz is orgasm, it is the music of orgasm, good orgasm and bad, and so it spoke across a nation, it had the communication of art even where it was watered, perverted, corrupted, and almost killed, it spoke in no matter what laundered popular way of instantaneous existential states to which some whites could respond, it was indeed a communication by art because it said, “I feel this, and now you do too.” Virtuosity is bound to colorism, tokenism, trophyism, and the ruptures of interraciality on legacies of rape and social distortion of dark skin, reverse colorism is not real. The importance of dance in courtship and social gatherings is probably older than its use as recreation and entertainment, 2021 (detail view)
Collage on artificial plant, fabric grow bag with moss, acrylic paint, and plastic
92 × 40 × 20 inches
(233.7 × 101.6 × 50.8 cm)
Courtesy the artist and 52 Walker, New York

Kandis Williams
Genes, not Genius: The overlying purpose is to address how the social production of biologically determinist racial scripts—which extend from a biocentric conception of the human—can be dislodged by bringing studies of blackness in/and science into conversation with autopoiesis, black Atlantic livingness, weights and measures, and poetry. A biocentric conception of the human, it should be noted up front, refers to the law-like order of knowledge that posits a Darwinian narrative of the human—that we are purely biological and bioevolutionary beings—as universal; elegance is elimination, 2021
Collage on artificial plant, fabric grow bag with moss, and plastic
92 × 41 × 18 inches
(233.7 × 104.1 × 45.7 cm)
Courtesy the artist and 52 Walker, New York

Kandis Williams
Genes, not Genius: The overlying purpose is to address how the social production of biologically determinist racial scripts—which extend from a biocentric conception of the human—can be dislodged by bringing studies of blackness in/and science into conversation with autopoiesis, black Atlantic livingness, weights and measures, and poetry. A biocentric conception of the human, it should be noted up front, refers to the law-like order of knowledge that posits a Darwinian narrative of the human—that we are purely biological and bioevolutionary beings—as universal; elegance is elimination, 2021 (detail view)
Collage on artificial plant, fabric grow bag with moss, and plastic
92 × 41 × 18 inches
(233.7 × 104.1 × 45.7 cm)
Courtesy the artist and 52 Walker, New York

Kandis Williams
Genes, not Genius: The overlying purpose is to address how the social production of biologically determinist racial scripts—which extend from a biocentric conception of the human—can be dislodged by bringing studies of blackness in/and science into conversation with autopoiesis, black Atlantic livingness, weights and measures, and poetry. A biocentric conception of the human, it should be noted up front, refers to the law-like order of knowledge that posits a Darwinian narrative of the human—that we are purely biological and bioevolutionary beings—as universal; elegance is elimination, 2021
Collage on artificial plant, fabric grow bag with moss, and plastic
92 × 41 × 18 inches
(233.7 × 104.1 × 45.7 cm)
Courtesy the artist and 52 Walker, New York

Kandis Williams
Genes, not Genius: The overlying purpose is to address how the social production of biologically determinist racial scripts—which extend from a biocentric conception of the human—can be dislodged by bringing studies of blackness in/and science into conversation with autopoiesis, black Atlantic livingness, weights and measures, and poetry. A biocentric conception of the human, it should be noted up front, refers to the law-like order of knowledge that posits a Darwinian narrative of the human—that we are purely biological and bioevolutionary beings—as universal; elegance is elimination, 2021 (detail view)
Collage on artificial plant, fabric grow bag with moss, and plastic
92 × 41 × 18 inches
(233.7 × 104.1 × 45.7 cm)
Courtesy the artist and 52 Walker, New York

Kandis Williams
Marx Baker Rumba, 2020
Sublimated prints on cotton paper, copper wire, and plastic in vase
40 x 22 x 20 inches
(101.6 x 55.9 x 50.8 cm)
Courtesy of Morán Morán

Kandis Williams
They go from a fence, or a closed place for slaves, to a dancing gathering of Africans in Latin America; from the beating of drums to the place where they danced to the sound of drums, even to the Hispanic-Arab-African dance they call tango andaluz. Kizomba, Semba, Sea Kelp and Hanging Amaranthus arrangement, 2020
Sublimated prints on cotton paper, copper wire, and plastic in vase
32 x 22 x 19 inches
(81.3 x 55.9 x 48.3 cm)
Courtesy of Morán Morán

Kandis Williams
Otto Preminger’s Carmen Jones – October 28th 1954, Brown v. Board of Education – May 17th 1954, 2020
Collage on artificial plant
66 x 30 x 22 inches
(167.6 x 76.2 x 55.9 cm)
Courtesy of Morán Morán

Kandis Williams
Annexation Tango, 2020 (excerpt)
Video with sound
10 minutes and 19 seconds
Edition of X plus XAP
Courtesy of the artist and Morán Morán

Kandis Williams
Bitter Arrangement IV: Overseers Aerial, apprehension and authorization, 2021
Aerosol spray and plastic
40 x 40 inches
(101.6 x 101.6 cm)
Courtesy of Morán Morán

Kandis Williams
Bitter Arrangement V: Descending, subjectivization with/in/out compassion, 2021
Aerosol spray and plastic
40 x 40 inches
(101.6 x 101.6 cm)
Courtesy of Morán Morán

Kandis Williams
Modernity is not merely a compromise between novel forms of commercially driven social organization and this archaic cultural pattern of patrilineal exogamy, but more fundamentally, a deepening of the compromise already integral to any exogamy that is able to remain patrilineal, 2019
Medium
48 x 48 inches
(121.9 x 121.9 cm)
Courtesy of Morán Morán

Kandis Williams
Cave before Cocytus, 2018
Vinyl adhesive on mirror
24 x 24 inches
(61 x 61 cm)
Courtesy of Morán Morán

Kandis Williams
Esophagus Pin Up, 2016
Vinyl adhesive on plexiglass
48 x 86.5 inches
(121.9 x 219.7 cm)
Courtesy of Morán Morán

Kandis Williams
Pins and Needles, 2016
Vinyl adhesive on plexiglass, fluorescent light
48 x 90.25 inches
(121.9 x 229.2 cm)
Courtesy of Morán Morán

Kandis Williams
Scarlet@cinemagropers.com, 2016
Vinyl, phototransfer and acrylic paint on canvas
30 x 47 inches
(76.2 x 119.4 cm)
Courtesy of Morán Morán

Kandis Williams
Venus is a Sacrificial Form, 2016
Vinyl, phototransfer and acrylic paint on canvas
76 x 44 inches
(193 x 111.8 cm)
Courtesy of Morán Morán

Kandis Williams
Styxx, 2018
Paper, collage, plexiglass and hardware
7.75 x 6.5 inches
(19.7 x 16.5 cm)
Courtesy of Morán Morán