Des Moines Art Center features first video project by artist Jeffrey Gibson

Posted on Friday, May 10, 2019

For Immediate Release
Contact: Barbara Briggie-Smith
Tel: 515.271.0343

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Des Moines Art Center features first video project by artist Jeffrey Gibson

DES MOINES, IOWA (May 2019) – 

On Friday May 24, the Des Moines Art Center will open Jeffrey Gibson: I Was Here, which runs through September 22, 2019 in the Pamela Bass-Bookey and Harry Bookey Gallery.

For the past two decades, artist Jeffrey Gibson has been producing work that addresses themes such as race, gender, sexuality, and religion. At first, Gibson resisted the notion that his art reflected his multifaceted identity. He grew up in Europe, Korea, and the United States. He’s a member of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and is half-Cherokee. And he identifies as queer. But recently Gibson has admitted, in reference to these cultures and identities, “I’m finally at a point where I can feel comfortable being your introduction.”

In I Was Here, the artist explores “how the representation of one’s subjective narrative is complex, valid, and never didactic.” The work is Gibson’s first video project, and is a hybrid of documentary and invented narrative. It features Macy, a transgender woman living on the Choctaw reservation in Mississippi. It starts by following an ordinary day in Macy’s life, which includes applying make-up and a trip to the Piggly Wiggly. Halfway through, the plot twists and the film becomes more fantastical. We observe Macy traversing an ethereal, wooded landscape and donning garments designed by Gibson, eventually baptizing herself in a body of water.

Accompanying the piece is an original soundtrack composed by Canadian (Inuk) throat singer Tanya Tagaq. One of the oldest forms of music, throat-singing in Canada is native to the Inuit, and is traditionally only performed by women. Tagaq’s short, sharp, rhythmic inhalations and exhalations add rawness and emotion to the video.

Jeffrey Gibson: I Was Here is organized by Assistant Curator Jared Ledesma.

About the Des Moines Art Center

Recognized by international art critics as a world-class museum in the heart of the Midwest, the Des Moines Art Center has amassed an important collection with a major emphasis on contemporary art. The collection’s overriding principle is a representation of artists from the 19th century to the present, each through a seminal work. This accounts for an impressive collection that ranges from Edward Hopper’s Automat to Jasper Johns’ Tennyson, Henri Matisse’s Woman in White, Georgia O’Keeffe’s From the Lake No. 1, Francis Bacon’s Study after Velásquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X, Bill Viola’s Ascension, and Cecily Brown’s Half-Bind.

The Art Center’s physical complex marries with the collection for a totally integrated experience. The collection is housed in three major buildings, each designed by a world-renowned architect – Eliel Saarinen, I. M. Pei, and Richard Meier. With the exception of special events, admission to the museum is free.

In September 2009, the John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park opened in Des Moines’ Western Gateway Park. Philanthropists John and Mary Pappajohn have provided funding for and donated 28 sculptures by internationally acclaimed contemporary artists to the Des Moines Art Center. The collection of sculptures by such artists as Louise Bourgeois, Deborah Butterfield, Willem de Kooning, Olafur Eliasson, Keith Haring, Ellsworth Kelly, Jaume Plensa, Richard Serra, Joel Shapiro, and Mark di Suvero, is the most significant donation of artwork to the Art Center in a single gift in the museum’s history. The Pappajohn Sculpture Park was created in collaboration with the Pappajohns, the City of Des Moines, the Des Moines Art Center, and numerous corporate and private donors.

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