Mirages of Dreams Past by lens-based mixed media artist, archivist, Alanna Fields, is comprised of a new series of large-scale mixed-media collages exploring the representation of Black queer desire, sensuality, leisure, and memory.
For the works in Mirages of Dreams Past—Fields’s first solo exhibition—the artist draws upon an eclectic range of vernacular photographs of Black queer people dating from the 1960s to the 1970s. Reframing this found archive using a kaleidoscopic technique, Fields repeats and layers a single image to both reconstruct the way we process images and push beyond the constructs of nostalgia and memory. Through the use of wax, she applies different levels of transparency to each figure: they emerge and dissolve, slipping in and out of view, in constant stages of revealing and concealing what can’t be accessed in real time.
The pieces in Mirages of Dreams Past build upon Fields’s acclaimed recent series “Audacity” (2019-20) and “As We Were” (2019), in which wax served as a means to seal and memorialize Black queer life and visually address how it has historically been obscured and concealed. In the new works, however, the wax begins to frame rather than conceal: nature, vibrant interiors, and images of home come into focus.
“The past is always with us as we carry our histories in our bodies,” says Fields. “It holds a richness that we must engage in order to understand and unpack our collective memories, grapple with the present, and imagine the future. Reflecting upon intimate moments of solitude, freedom and desire, these works traverse through a boundless black queer dream space that amplifies, echoes and reverberates back to the viewer, bringing memory into focus.”
Alanna Fields asks the viewer to look more deeply and closely at tender and quiet moments and to reflect upon memory, intimacy, and vulnerability. Working to create a new archive, the artist explores dreaming and dream spaces as a means of venturing through memory, piercing the historical record’s veil and shining a light on what was hiding in plain sight.
Alanna Fields (b. 1990) is a multi-media artist and archivist whose work examines the dialogue between black queer bodies in the photographic space through gesture, and the negotiation between legibility and masking. Fields work has been featured in exhibitions at UNTITLED Art Fair in Miami, MoCADA, Pratt Institute and the Prince George’s African American Museum and Cultural Center. Fields is a 2018 Gordon Parks Foundation Scholar and 2020 Light Work Artist-in-residence. She received her MFA in Photography from Pratt Institute in 2019 and has given talks at NYU Tisch School of the Arts and Parson’s New School. Fields lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. Fields is represented by Assembly.
This exhibition is made possible by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, The Jerome Foundation, The Tierney Family Foundation, Steven Amedee Fine Custom Framing, Fujifilm of North America, The Puffin Foundation Ltd., and Yarden Winery.
This project was supported, in part, by a Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grant.