Taking shape through performance, music, video, and installation, the work of Steffani Jemison (MFA 2009) draws upon Black vernacular culture to produce new modes of expression and models for community. She presents a selection of audio works alongside her latest video, Sensus Plenior (2017). Taking its title from Latin for “fuller meaning,” Sensus Plenior considers the relationship between gesture and language through the ecstatic choreography of ordained minister Susan Webb and the Master Mime Ministry of Harlem. Jemison explores similar questions around translation and transformation in Recitatif—an ongoing series of performances and recordings that use Solresol, a utopian 19th-century musical language, to reinterpret Black popular and political music like Smokey Robinson’s “Quiet Storm” and the spiritual “Mary Don’t You Weep.” Through Solresol’s capacity to generate multiple meanings from a single root, Jemison forges alternative ways for understanding history, culture, and everyday social relations.
2008–18, USA, multiple formats, ca 60 min + discussion
Steffani Jemison in person
Steffani Jemison (MFA 2009) uses time-based, photographic, and discursive platforms to examine "progress" and its alternatives. Currently based in Brooklyn, New York, Jemison holds an MFA from SAIC and a BA in comparative literature from Columbia University. Jemison's work has been exhibited nationally and internationally at venues such as Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume, Paris; LAXART, Los Angeles; the New Museum, New York; Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Copenhagen, Denmark; among others. Her work is in the public collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Brooklyn Museum, New York; Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; and Kadist Foundation, Paris and San Francisco. Jemison was the 2017–18 Mildred Londa Weisman Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University.