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His first solo exhibition in the UK, now on show at Camden Arts Centre, presents new works based on the plight of the Harlem Six – six black youths arrested for committing a murder during the Harlem riot in 1964 – and using footage of the comedian Richard Pryor.
A new series of enormous black-and-white silkscreen paintings are based on composer Steve Reich’s taped-speech work, using the recorded voice of Daniel Hamm, one of the Harlem Six, describing how he had to puncture one of his bruises to prove to the police he had been beaten. Layered up so as to obscure the text, creating a rhythm that recalls Reich’s musical piece, the works dominate the large gallery at the Camden Arts Centre.
A new neon piece takes from the same source material and demonstrates Ligon’s technique of creating “black” neon.
Finally, a seven-screen video installation uses footage from the comedian Richard Pryor’s 1982 standup show, Live on the Sunset Strip. Removing the sound, Ligon forces viewers to observe Pryor’s lively and exaggerated body language, exploring an alternative means of communication and self-expression.
Glenn Ligon: Call and Response
Camden Arts Centre, London
10 October 2014 – 11 January 2015
Interview by ANNA McNAY
Filmed by MARTIN KENNEDY