Andre Bradley's Dark Archives is featured in the Of Color exhibit.
Interview conducted by Petal Niles, Scripps College '19.
As a photographer, what role do you see the image taking in the construction of representation? And how, through your art, do you work to reclaim representation?
As a photographer I see the image taking a dual role of hurting and healing in the continuous construction, deconstruction, and reconstruction of representation, which I think has presented a great struggle to me personally in the continuous formation of my personal identity. In my art I work to reclaim representation in the construction, deconstruction, and reconstruction of representation through storytelling and narrative agency--black lives matter-- and the matter of my black life is my story.
How has your form obscured the contents of your identity? How does your book, as archive and object, allow for expression on your own terms?
The form of Dark Archives presents three different booklets in a dossier of sorts, with one loose-leaf and one post-card, this form particularly expresses on my own terms what I see as the layered nature of identity and how we are taught to compartmentalize our humanity in order to exist, be understood, and accepted. I believe that Dark Archives was a clear attempt to bear witness to and humanize my existence as simplistic compartments " male, black, urban, etc " which helped me to expand my personal view of self.
What work do you think the personal narrative performs in the context of broader social environments?
I think the personal narrative performs the work of interpersonal relationship building through provocation and empathy.
As someone publicly exploring identity in your work, how do you think of the relationship between how we perceive ourselves and how others perceive us?
I think how we perceive ourselves and how others perceive us can be of huge consequence or of little consequence. The more I begin to know myself, and my complexity therein, I can realize continuously how expansive and multifaceted and dynamic I have always been...even when I understood very little about myself. I used to believe in other peoples perceptions of me now I don't entertain my own for too long.
What have you learned in the process of asking yourself “Who is Andre Bradley?” that came as unexpected, unwelcome, or reassuring?
In the process of asking myself "Who is Andre Bradley?" it has been completely unexpected that I would learn to open myself emotionally to expressing the joys and terrors of living. I learned to speak what's on my mind, and what’s on my heart. Specifically, I learned to say that I am hurting, personally, historically, and that I need help. I learned to say that I need love, personally, historically.
As an artist and author, how do you conceptualize truth?
I don't like to conceptualize the truth.
What did you see in the mirror today?
Today, in the mirror I saw my face.
With various different formats of presenting art, what drew you to create this piece in the form of an artist's book? How do you think the format of an artist's book best explores/examines race and identity?
Is it cliche to say I was obsessed with books as a child? I felt accepted by them, and at home, and alive. Dark Archives sometimes makes me think that I was looking to create a space to feel accepted by, at home in, and alive in Andre Bradley. The book is a narrative of those times in my life, I'm very different now.
How would you like your audience to interact with your work?
I like an audience to connect with me through sharing what makes us vulnerable to judgment, hardship, rejection.
How are the central themes/messages of your work relevant to contemporary issues?
The central themes/messages of my work, when explicit is really I think about the effect of mass-media images and the effect they have on African American men and boys. These images pervade the everyday lives of all Americans, they can shape and dictate what I think I am capable of, my wants, my behavior, if I'm not careful. To even seek to be in a kind of control of who you are becoming, while being black and male in America can cause you to momentarily lose your mind, which I have. The issue of black behavioral health and expressing emotions, is of paramount importance to contemporary issues in art and society, well at least in my art and society.