Suffering From Realness
“It will gradually become apparent that at particular moments when there is within a society a crisis of belief…the sheer material factualness of the human body will be borrowed to lend that cultural construct the aura of ‘realness’ and ‘certainty.’ – Elaine Scarry, The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of the World (1985)
Suffering From Realness explores the politics of representation — and the ways in which artists use the body to grasp at and re-center the “aura of realness” in an age of uncertainty. The title for the exhibition is borrowed from the song “Ni**as in Paris” by Jay-Z and Kanye West in which West raps: “Doctors say I’m the illest / ‘Cause I’m suffering from realness.” This prophetic lyric ended up signaling the musician’s spiraling ego, over-the-top public behavior, and mental health issues. But the phrase also begs the question, “What exactly is realness?” In her most political group exhibition to date, curator Denise Markonish explores the fluidity of identity and the media rituals performed to tell the narrative of “realness.”
192 pages. Hardcover.