News — 21 Jun 2019

Sensus Plenior: 22 June until 2 August 2019

Similitude: 3 August until 29 September 2019 (world premiere)

Similitude, research image (c) Steffani Jemison 2019
'Similitude', research image (c) Steffani Jemison 2019

This summer the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam presents two video works by much praised multidisciplinary artist Steffani Jemison, who previously exhibited at the MoMA in New York and Jeu de Paume in Paris. In her videos Sensus Plenior (2017) and Similitude (2019) Jemison examines the role of language and gesture in the creation of meaning, particularly within the history of African American contributions to the culture of the United States. Her work addresses the long history of African American practices that use new or adapted forms of language and writing as an expression of autonomy and resilience, examining how these large contributions have led to new understandings of the world at large.

'Sensus Plenior', (c) Steffani Jemison 2017
'Sensus Plenior', (c) Steffani Jemison 2017

Sensus Plenior (Latin for “fuller meaning”) follows Reverend Susan Webb, leader of the Master Mime Ministry of Harlem, New York. Stemming from the genealogies of French mime artist Marcel Marceau and West African dance, gospel mime interprets songs through gesture. Jemison’s film explores this tradition as a continuation of her research into language and storytelling traditions. Sensus Plenior is on show from 22 June until 2 Augustus 2019.

Similitude, which has its world premiere at the Stedelijk in this presentation, explores modernist mime, postcolonial mimicry, gesture and abstraction in relation to American and European mid-20th century modernist mime. Featuring a black American actor trained in physical theater, Similitude considers spiritual dimensions of the discipline, including questions of masking and opacity, self-sufficiency and self-similarity, and the structural device of the parable or similitude. Similitude is on view from 3 August until 29 September 2019.

Steffani Jemison: New Videos is presented alongside Decoders-Recorders, a double solo exhibition of Steffani Jemison and Samson Young organized by De Appel in collaboration with, and at Looiersgracht 60 in Amsterdam, 6 July – 1 September 2019.

Jemison, born in California, received her Bachelor of Arts in Comparative Literature at Columbia University. Afterwards she studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In 2013 she received the prestigious Tiffany Foundation Biennial prize and the following year an Art Matters prize. She also won the Radcliffe Fellowship prize from Harvard University in 2017.

 From her home in Brooklyn, New York, Steffani Jemison works on publications and new works. In addition to videos, drawings, installations, and objects she also produces performances such as Promise Machine (2015) with which she exhibited at MoMA, New York.