About this artwork
This photo-diorama is packed with coded figures and objects, each imbued with historical, sociopolitical, and au-tobiographical significance to the artist. Strands of Skittles refer to the last purchase Trayvon Martin made before being fatally shot by George Zimmerman in 2012. Images of models cut from fashion ads call out designers accused of cultural appropriation. Family snapshots of women in white are shown holding the faces of Kalief Browder (who committed suicide after being incarcerated for petty theft while a teen) and Bob Love (a model for photographer Robert Mapplethorpe). The work’s title is borrowed from Kanye West’s 2016 song “Ultralight Beam,” a track widely celebrated for its virtuosic blending of rap, gospel, and R & B genres. As a whole, this work meditates on the balance between public self-presentation and private lives across complex scenes of dominance, exploitation, appropriation, and resistance.
- Wardell Milan
- I'm trying to keep my faith. But I'm searching for more. Somewhere I can be safe.
- United States
- Made 2017–2018
- Chromogenic print; edition 1/3, plus 2 artist's proofs
- 111.8 × 248.9 cm
- Restricted gift of Brenda Shapiro