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Sanfor d Big ger s isn’ t conte nt t o b e c a lle d a s c ulp t o r, v id e o a r t is t o r p e r fo r m a nc e a r t is t , e ve n though these m edia ar e c e nt r a l t o his w o r k . H e ’ s a n a r t is t w ho s e int e r d is c ip lina r y skills a llow him to c hallenge v ie w e r s w it h a n unus ua l p r a c t ic e t ha t r e s is t s c ha r a c t e r iz a tion. He’s not only an idea m a n in t he c o nc e p t ua l a r t t r a d i t io n , he a ls o m a k e s a m a z i ng a nd mysterious things. For his ex hibition at Gr and Ar t s in K a ns a s C it y in 2 0 0 7 , B ig ge r s inc lud e d t hr e e p r o je c t s, casting thr ee dif fer ent his t o r ic a l r e f le c t io ns o f v io le nc e a g a ins t Af r ic a n- Am e r ic a ns a n d cr eating a ne w take on f a m ilia r r e p r e s e nt a t io n s o f t ha t v io l e nc e . F ir s t is t he s im p le e le g ia c for m , “Lotus” (200 7 ): a la r ge s c a le g la s s d is c s us p e nd e d in s p a c e , r e s e m bling a ce r e mo nial East Asian gong. H a nd e t c he d o nt o it in t he s ha p e o f a blo s s o m ing lo t us f lo w e r is a r e peating patter n of sla v e s li ne d in r o w s in t he ho ld o f a s hip ; a n im a ge a p p r o p r ia t e d fr om the f amous anti-slave r y p o s t e r c r e a t e d by t he P ly m o ut h C o m m it t e e o f Ab o lit io nis t s in 1789. T he ships become p e t a ls r a d ia t ing o ut f r o m a n e m p t y c e nt e r. T hr o ug h t he lo t us sha pe, this f amiliar ima ge o f t h e s la v e s hip is link e d t o a no t he r v is ua l v o c a bula r y, Ze n Bud dhism . T he sem i-tr ansp a r e nt m a nd a la inv it e s t r a ns c e nd e nt c o nt e m p la t io n w hil e im a g ing a n unbr oken c ontinuum o f s la v e r y w it h no s t a r t ing p o int a nd no e nd . C ir c ula r it y d is to r ts the Wester n notion of p r o g r e s s, illum ina t ing it s f a lla c ie s. C o n c ur r e nt ly, t he his t o r ic a l sp e cificity of Afric an tr aum a p unc t ur e s t he s ha p e ’ s uni v e r s a lit y. Ty p ic a l o f B ig ge r s ’ w o r k , e ve r ything is ha ppening at o nc e . T he v ie w e r lo o k s a t t his fo r m , lo o k s t hr o ug h it , a nd w hile consuming the lar ger sha pe , r e c o g niz e s t he d e t a il a nd t he s ha do w s o f s la v e r y b e ing c a s t o n e ve r y v ie wer passing by. Alt ho ug h it ’ s a ll a b o ut lig ht , t his p ie c e is he a v y. A la r ge , m onum ental sc ulpt ur a l ins t a lla t io n, “ B lo s s o m ” (2 0 0 7 ), is t he s e c o nd p a r t o f t his suite . An old tr ee a ppear s t o b e g r o w ing o ut o f t he f lo o r o f t he g a lle r y a n d int o t he c e il ing, spr eading its br anc hes a c r o s s m o s t o f t he r o o m ’ s w id t h. A ne a r ly p e r f e c t c ir c le o f dir t on the f loor sur r ounds t he s t ur dy t r unk . And t his t r e e b e a r s s t r a nge f r uit ind e e d : a b r own ba by gr and piano wit h Que e n Anne s t y le le g s is p e ne t r a t e d by t he t r unk a nd lif t e d of f of the gr ound. Fr om the p ia n o o ne he a r s t he s o ng “ St r a n ge Fr uit ” p o p ul a r iz e d by B illi e Ho lliday and ada pted f r om t he Ab e l M e e r o p o l p o e m t ha t fo r m s a n a e s t he t ic la m e nt t o ly nc h ing in the South. T he symb o lis m is no t o b s c ur e a nd t h e ir o ny is p a lp a ble . T his b e a ut if ul constr uction, inv oking the p o w e r f ul fo r c e o f na t ur e a s it p ie r c e s o ne o f hum a nk ind ’ s m o s t P r e vio u s Pa ge : “R ide or Die ” Color inkjet

“Lo tus” 7.5 ft d iameter. Etc hed g lass, steel, c olor e d LED ’s. 2007


RVA Volume 4 Issue 9 - Grand Illusions