Diedrick Brackens
everything I have ever touched

Mar. 4 - June 4, 2023

brackens 19
Diedrick Brackens, everything I have ever touched, 2023, Installation view, courtesy the artist, Jack Shainman Gallery, New York, Photo: Volker Crone

(...) Thank you, Adam, for taking away the pressure that I experienced. This is the title I would like to use for the exhibition. On further reflection, I feel it is in keeping with the direction the work is taking and addresses some of my concerns. I am taken with the sensual possibilities and the oblique reference to process (touching all the threads).

I also like the impossible idea that the objects could depict/describe everything I have ever touched. So I hope you find this as nonsensical, wild, liberating, sensual and intimate-critical as I do.

Diedrick Brackens’ everything I have ever touched at the Kestner Gesellschaft is the artist’s first solo show in a European art institution. Composed of an existing body of work as well as of an extensive number of newly produced works, this exhibition is Brackens’ self-reflexive endeavour where radical tenderness, accompanied by a critical intimacy, contributes to the ethics of storytelling and a lyrical representation of masculinity.

Exploring the intersections of identity and sociopolitical issues, Diedrick Brackens (born 1989 in Mexia, Texas) creates intricate, handwoven tapestries and textile sculptures that reexamine allegory and narrative through material, autobiography, the broader themes of African American and queer identity, as well as American history and memory.

The material indicates a sensation of tactility as well as it connotes the political dimension: “Cotton is the primary material because it is a very easy material to manipulate, it takes color beautifully and its historical significance in the U.S. relating to enslavement, violence and subjugation has had lasting effects on black bodies,” the artist explains. “I think of the process of hand-weaving cotton as a small way to pay tribute to those who came before me and worked with the material under very different circumstances.” In Brackens’ work, the nuanced visions of African American life and identity are reflected in the complicated histories of labor and migration. Brackens’ is a highly intertextual and performative practice which incorporates various traditions and employs techniques from West African weaving (such as kente cloth), quilting from the American South and European tapestry-making (including medieval European Unicorn tapestries) to create both abstract and figurative works. Often depicting moments of male tenderness, Brackens culls from African and African American literature, poetry and folklore as source.

His collective mythology combines timeless narratives about emancipation and remediation through pattern, body, and the power of craft. Participating in rituals and fantasies of desire and kinship, Brackens’ protagonists perform choreography of vulnerability and care; here the beauty and brutality are intertwined in the allegorical dance of cosmic proportions; here the intergenerational trauma is re-enacted in an almost shamanistic seance of empowerment and resilience, imbued with a fantastical spirit, and poignantly bridging past and present.

Bracken's recent solo exhibitions include the Mint Museum, Charlotte, NC, Craft Contemporary, Los Angeles, CA, Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, TX, Oakville Galleries, Ontario, Canada, New Museum, New York, NY. He has participated in numerous group exhibitions including "The Slipstream: Reflection, Resilience, and Resistance in the Art of Our Time," Brooklyn Museum, NY, 2021-2, "Made in the L.A., 2018," Hammer Museum, L.A., "Ear to the Ground: Earth and Element in Contemporary Art," New Orleans Museum of Art, 2019.

He is the recipient of the Brandford/Elliot Award For Excellence in Fiber Art, Textile Society of America, 2018; Joyce Alexander Wein Artist Prize, Studio Museum in Harlem, 2018; Marciano Artadia Award, 2019; Louis Tiffany Comfort Grant, 2019; and US Artist Fellowship, 2021.

Brackens lives and works in Los Angeles, CA. He received a BFA from the University of North Texas, Denton, TX, and an MFA in Textiles from California College of the Arts, San Francisco, CA.

Curator: Adam Budak

Curatorial Assistance: Robert Knoke

Learn more about Diedrick Brackens in the exhibition handout

Installation Images

Diedrick Brackens, everything I have ever touched, 2023, Installation view, courtesy the artist, Jack Shainman Gallery, New York, Photo: Volker Crone

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