(born 1974, New York, New York; lives and works in New York, New York)
Working in performance, photography and installation, Xaviera Simmons investigates the intersections of language, landscape and portraiture. The multiple stop-action-like photographs in Number 14 (When A Group Of People Comes Together To Watch Someone Do Something) document a spontaneous performance the artist created aboard a train in Sri Lanka in 2012. In the first few frames of the series, we see Simmons sitting on a crowded train wearing only shorts and a T-shirt. Sensitive to the contrast between her Western outfit and what is commonly worn in the more socially conservative nation, Simmons gradually wraps her body and hair with fabric to cover exposed skin, a gesture that paradoxically sheds light on unspoken cultural norms. As the action progresses, Simmons’s willingness to conform elicits help from Sri Lankans who help her cover her body with additional clothing and scarves. Number 14 reflects Simmons’s continued interest in the relationships between physical spaces and the invisible social codes that structure them.
Xaviera Simmons received her BFA from Bard College in 2004. She went on to the Maggie Flanigan Studio to complete the two-year Actor Training Conservatory while participating in the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program. Her solo exhibitions include Xaviera Simmons, David Castillo Gallery, Miami (2013); When You’re Looking at Me, You’re Looking at Country, More Art, New York (2012); Salt 4, Utah Museum of Fine Arts, Salt Lake City (2011); Wilderness, Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery, New York (2011); Junctures (Transmissions To), Goethe Institute / The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York (2010); Oscillation: For a Minute There, I Lost Myself, Museum of Art and Design, New York (2009); Perspectives 157: Electric Relaxation; Digital Good Time, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (2008); The Hustle Never Stops in Lagos (et al.), Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum, Santa Barbara, CA (2007); and How to Break Your Own Heart, Art in General, New York (2006). Her group exhibitions include Tête-à-tête, Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Chicago (2012); Primary Sources, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York (2012); 30 Americans, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC (2011); Oceanomania: Souvenirs from a Mysterious Sea, Nouveau Musee National de Monaco (2011); Hydrarchy: Power and Resistance at Sea, Contemporary Image Collective, Cairo, Egypt (2011); Stargazers: Elizabeth Catlett in Conversation with 21 Contemporary Artists, Bronx Museum of the Arts, Bronx, NY (2011); The Record, Nasher Museum, Duke University, Durham, NC (2010); 30 Seconds off an Inch, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York (2010); In Practice, SculptureCenter, Long Island City, NY (2009); Negritude, Exit Art, New York (2009); Street Art, Street Life, Bronx Museum of the Arts, Bronx, NY (2008); Mixtape, Exit Art, New York (2008); Cinema Remixed and Reloaded: Black Women Artists and the Moving Image since 1970, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston and Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, Atlanta (2007–9); Black Alphabet: Contexts of Contemporary African American Art, Zacheta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw, Poland (2006); Frequency, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York (2005); Relics and Remnants, Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning, Jamaica, NY; Video Show, Takt Kuntsprojectraum, Berlin (2005); and African Queen, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York (2005).