Baxter St at the Camera Club of New York announces Pegeron, the first solo exhibition of films, video collages, paintings, and sculptures by Baxter St 2023 Resident Tatiana Florival. Works on view in this exhibition explore Florival’s personal family history, as it intersects with broader narratives about American history, particularly the Black experience in America and Black nostalgia. Pegeron will be on view at Baxter St’s Gallery at 126 Baxter Street from December 13, 2023 – January 31, 2024.
Florival engages in a lens-based practice of world-building by animating and reinterpreting her family’s photo archive. The resulting works reflect both the seemingly self-contained world of the artist’s family and the ways in which public narratives influence and intertwine with private histories. Based specifically on Florival’s grandfather’s old photographs, her works draw a lineage between her own hand and the hands of her ancestors.
While dominant narratives in American history play an important role in the exhibition, Florival is also interested in the blending of real and imagined stories, gesturing toward the malleability of memory and storytelling. Created across mediums and formats, works are materially expansive and technically acute. Sculptural video tableaus, for example, carefully connect original photographs with newly created forms and content. Tableau scenes show images rooted in reality, such as model ships sinking, American soldiers parachuting into Vietnam, and young black girls getting their hair braided, while also including more fantastical scenes like giant monsters situated in trees. In this sense, Florival’s artworks contend with truth while being governed by a different set ofrules than those at play in the everyday world.
While Florival’s work deals with trauma, violence, and war, moments of joy and fun play an important and revelatory role. In her film, The Adventures of Manboy and Bushie, two time-traveling detectives go on a Space Time Mission instead of being drafted to the Vietnam War. In this work, Florival pointedly draws on her grandfather’s Black American experience by riffing on old Western films. The work recalls her grandfather’s love for watching Westerns, while also critiquing the genre’s inherent racism and colonialism. For the artist’s grandfather, watching the films ignited a desire for an imagined, ahistorical past. In the suspended reality of The Adventures of Manboy and Bushie, Florival’s grandfather reaches toward that desire to insert himself into any time or place, existing without violence, while black, throughout the history of America.