THE HISTORY OF EVERYTHING, PART THREE
mixed media collage on paper, in sixteen parts
each: 13.5 by 13.5 cm. 5⅜ by 5⅜ in.
framed: each: 25.4 by 25.4 cm. 10 by 10 in.
Executed in 2016.
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This work is in very condition. Each sheet is hinged verso to the backing board in all four corners and undulates slightly. Each sheet has round-cut upper and lower right corners. All collaged elements are stable. Very close inspection to some of the sheets reveal some faint media accretions in isolated places.
The lot is sold in the condition it is in at the time of sale. The condition report is provided to assist you with assessing the condition of the lot and is for guidance only. Any reference to condition in the condition report for the lot does not amount to a full description of condition. The images of the lot form part of the condition report for the lot. Certain images of the lot provided online may not accurately reflect the actual condition of the lot. In particular, the online images may represent colors and shades which are different to the lot's actual color and shades. The condition report for the lot may make reference to particular imperfections of the lot but you should note that the lot may have other faults not expressly referred to in the condition report for the lot or shown in the online images of the lot. The condition report may not refer to all faults, restoration, alteration or adaptation. The condition report is a statement of opinion only. For that reason, the condition report is not an alternative to taking your own professional advice regarding the condition of the lot. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS ONLINE CONDITION REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE/BUSINESS APPLICABLE TO THE RESPECTIVE SALE.
Vielmetter, Los Angeles
Private Collection, United States
Acquired from the above by the present owner
What does it mean to be black? In this series of 16 small works, African-American artist Deborah Roberts seeks to delicately capture the many pieces that make up Black personhood. Employing the collage technique that has become so associated with her practice, she reflects on the challenges and experiences young black children face as they make their way through the world. The world has a preconceived, reconstructed set of identities black children must place themselves within; constructs of the white gaze but also of the black community reflecting inherited history. And also of visual culture, and the lexicon of which perpetuates success in music and sports as places Black people occupy.
In The History of Everything, Part Three, Roberts’ collage is deeply sensitive. The emphasis on pattern and magazine cut-outs create a fusion of woven and printed history that come together to create delicate and moving representations of Black community. In one piece, a magazine cut-out of an eye, complete with eyeliner flick, replaces the wrap of a headdress or bundles of hair. Perhaps, a direct comment on the Western view of Black hairstyles and Black beauty.
Women dance with their arms swaying in jubilance; a boy with a flat cap slouches in his paperly sportswear... Black skin is represented in the blackest of black to softer sand colours. Colourism and the way that Black people are perceived is a possible contextualisation, as well as a celebration of all the beauty in the different shades of brown.
Collage, with employs the use of fragments of the varying source material, serves as a metaphor for Roberts' view that when people see people of colour, they don't see them as a whole person, but a partial person. This idea of fragments in relation to the 'self' is pervasive in psychoanalytic theory, particularly the work of Jacques Lacan. Roberts' collage pieces together the multi-faceted aspects of what it means to be black, and showcases the many colours, vibrance, and patterns in Black people and how they come together to be whole, diverse and beautiful.
The History of Everything shows how expansive the black experience can be; how delicate, urgent, colourful. It calls out for contemplation. Each well placed square, patterned piece. If magazines create the visual lexicon of contemporary history, creating her (our) history out of materials already in the world allows the world to come to come together to express an experience that is so rarely seen in magazines. The work is a call out for visibility. It is a scrapbook of the history of everything; Roberts’ everything, Black everything; our everything.
By Aindrea Emelife