(born 1965, Chicago, Illinois; lives and works in Brooklyn, New York)
Dread Scott is a photographer, performance artist, and provocateur. His work derives from a passion to uncover injustices as well as the subjugation of men and women made invisible by society. His work also highlights the historical struggles toward justice and equality. The photographs and sign in the work, I Am Not a Man, derive from a 2009 performance in which Scott walked the streets of Harlem in symbolic protest. The familiar but crucially altered protest sign he carried recalls those pictured in the iconic photo of the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Strike, a major civil rights-movement protest that sought equal treatment and safer working conditions for some 1,300 black sanitation workers. Scott’s appropriation of the famous sign and his addition of the word “not” to its message both pay homage to civil rights–era struggles and point to the limitations of those efforts. Intentionally stumbling and losing his pants, Scott punctuated the hour-long walk with humiliating moments that called attention to the persistence of racism in contemporary American society. Eliciting a spectrum of reactions from passersby, I Am Not a Man foregrounds the role of audience in activist performance art.
Dread Scott received a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1989. He completed the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Independent Study Program in 1993. His solo exhibitions include Revolutionary Archive, Thompson Gallery, San Jose State University (2012); You Lie! Dread Scott and Paul D. Miller (aka DJ Spooky, That Subliminal Kid), Bowery Poetry Club, New York (2010); Dread Scott: Welcome to America, MoCADA, Brooklyn (2008); Notorious ART: Dread Scott and John Sims, Ringling School of Art and Design, Sarasota, FL (2006); A Little Sumthin’ 2 Think About, Corridor Gallery, Brooklyn (2000); and Our Aim Is to Destroy Them!, NNWAC Gallery, Chicago (1988). His group exhibitions include It’s the Political Economy, Stupid, Austrian Cultural Forum, New York (2012); That Was Then…This Is Now, P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, Long Island City, NY (2008); 50,000 Beds, Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, CT (2007); The Wrong Gallery’s Down by Law, Day for Night, Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2006); . . . But I was cool, Aljira: A Center for Contemporary Art, Newark, NJ (2006); Open House: Working in Brooklyn, Brooklyn Museum (2004); Cross-Cultural Identities, South African Museum, Cape Town (2003); Postcards from Black America, DeBeyerd Center for Contemporary Art, Breda, Netherlands (1998); Old Glory: The American Flag in Contemporary Art, Cleveland Center for Contemporary Art (1994); Illegal America, Exit Art, New York (1990); and A/Part of the Whole, Columbus Drive Gallery, School of the Art Institute of Chicago (1989)