A desert landscape with people working in the road.

Mary Walling Blackburn

Artist in Residence, 2015

Artist Statement

Sometimes I experiment with the exchange of identities, strangers directing other strangers in the performance of their personal histories, namely extraterrestrial encounters.

Other times I write texts: a pro-choice children’s book published for free download at e-flux; a crowd-sourced translation of queer theorist Guy Hocquengham’s invective against marriage. In 2014, I produced an awkward mural, located on the surface of an abandoned highway. It serves as an acrimonious spell, attempting to galvanize safe passage for informal crossers.

I am also founder and director of Anhoek School which just produced and broadcast a dying feminist radio station, WMYN 87.9. Finally, I have been planning a male anti-fertility garden, featuring sub-tropical trees that cure the ailment of fertility. It will be planted in Texas and it shall be replete with neem, papaya, and myrtle.

While At Headlands

While at Headlands, I will begin to research and materially experiment with my next large-scale project titled “My,” an investigation of the juncture where Social Practice and artist autobiography structurally compromise one another. A central premise within Social Practice is that the artist has swapped the self and her mark for group participation and a commitment to the common good. This project will experiment with an inversion of that premise: if the artist’s autobiography is placed at the core of the project, can the selfishness of this approach cast some critical light on the proclaimed selflessness of Social Practice? What might we learn about Social Practice’s positioning within neoliberal structures? I am aiming for an underground and deviant interface with civic engagement and hoping this method exposes a less metabolized form of resistance.

Banner image caption: Detail from Record of a Bad Spell, 2014; abandoned freeway, Mexico/California border.

Selected Work

Ooh Foe (Exercise One) from mary walling blackburn on Vimeo.