Dividing his time between Los Angeles and Ghana, Todd Gray (b. 1954, Los Angeles) uses photography, performance, and sculpture to investigate the dynamics of power in relationship to the African Diaspora. With this photograph, Gray contrasts the structured, geometric European garden of “reason” with the sublime, natural African landscape. The title refers to the rational Euclidean way of understanding the world and also encompasses the voodoo tradition of gris gris – a protective talisman filled with herbs or minerals.
Evoking past, present, and future, this work combines photographs of forests in Ghana, an unknown historic statue in the Jardin de Luxembourg in Paris, and a view from the Hubble telescope. Gray intentionally obscured the figure of the statue with the branches “to eliminate the specific identity and reduce the historical form to a symbol of imperial power.” The different colors of the leaves were a glitch in the digital process: “that’s the gris gris, like the land inserted itself and had its say in the composition in contrast with the staid garden.” The photographs are defined by a variety of frames, some found. The cosmic view embraces the influence of Afrofuturism and the hope for the future with new heights to be reached.
Text Written by Gail Stavitsky (Chief Curator)
This work is currently on view in McMullen Gallery as part of Transformed: Objects Reimagined by American Artists.