Michael Alford: Conditions of My Release, exhibition for Hand-in-Glove

Michael Alford: Conditions of My Release
Curated by Margot Herster
Hand-in-Glove Conference (now called Common Field Convening)
October 17-20, 2013

Conditions of My Release presents four recent works by New Orleans artist Michael Alford. Alford is a multidisciplinary conceptual artist who works across documentary photography, small and large scale public sculpture, and Land Art. He is a military veteran who served in the U.S. Armed Forces Special Operations. He earned his B.F.A. from Baylor University while on active duty and an M.F.A. from Louisiana State University.

 

Alford places grave responsibility on himself, and on the viewer, because he applies creative problem solving to perform services of humanity that have effect beyond symbolic or illustrative limits of conventional art-making and voyeuristic viewership.
 
The installation Even in Death We Are Still the Same derives from Alford’s labor to navigate bureaucracy to retrieve and memorialize the cremated remains of eight people, who after their deaths, authorities failed to identify to return to their own family and community.

 

Michael Alford, Even in Death We Are All Still the Same, 2013.  Glass and metal jars with ink on paper metal tags hold unidentified cremated human remains that were slated for disposal by authorities.


 

 
Even in Death We Are Still the Same displayed on an illuminated table in a sparse gallery with three of Alford’s black and white photographs.

Created in the tradition of earth-body performance developed by Ana Mendieta, Alford’s photographs are solitary and introspective records of his meditations on theimpermanence of the human body. They document physical and metaphorical actions he undertook to make impressions in materials of the earth, like digging a crevice in the ground in which he placed his own body.

 
Hand-in-Glove (now called Common Field Convening) is an itinerant conference by ThreeWalls in Chicago. The conference was developed for individuals and organizations engaged in the pragmatic realities and imaginative possibilities of organizing exhibitions, re-granting programs, publications, residencies, public programs, platforms for projects, and a variety of other programming that challenges traditional formats for the production and reception of art at the grassroots level.
 
Hand-in-Glove took place in New Orleans on October 17-20, 2013. The keynote speaker was Martha Wilson, pioneering feminist performance artist and founder of Franklin Furnace Archive.