Jess Saldaña

Jess Saldaña holds a BA in Music Composition with a Theatre Minor from Columbia College in Chicago, an MA in Performance Studies from NYU and will be receiving an MFA in Fine Art (Parsons) and a certificate in Gender and Sexuality studies from The New School of Social Research in the spring of 2020. Their artistic work began in the public arts sector as a muralist on the Southside of Chicago— where they were raised. Interdisciplinary in practice, having training in music, theatre, photography/film, sculpture, and theoretical writing, Saldaña engages with a wide range of cultural theory. Their work is enveloped in critical race studies, queer theory, disability studies and Marxist critique. Poetry, photographs, paintings and drawings have been featured in publications like; Boston University’s Hoochi Media (2018), Lambda Lit’s 50th Anniversary of Stonewall Anthology (2019), and Entropy Mag (2019). They have spoken at conferences including, Black Portraiture[s] 2019, alongside scholars like Angela Davis. As well has having been a featured poet for The New Museum’s education programming, Saldaña’s photography series Trans-Landscapes—On The Edge of Entanglement was recently featured last January at CICA Museum in South Korea.

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All images: Security Dome Interventions, 2020, 35mm

Surveillance Dome Interventions are an assortment of black and white analog photographs which seek to suggest a bodily relation to visibility/invisibility in our current age of mass surveillance, as well as the collapse of the public and private. The object of the surveillance dome mirror serves as a surface to reflect but also distort, producing a warped, abstracted representation of the surveilled body in relation to it. The use of the analog medium displaces time, as contemporarily we are saturated with digital technologies. The camera in the photographs obscures the photographer’s face, concealing identity from the dome, yet revealing the body at once. These interventions are meant to confound the common function of the surveillance mirror proposing the question: what happens when the surveilled stare back? The photos shift the gaze of the surveillance mechanism into becoming the viewed. The work serves as a critique of this kind of representation, as well as a reproduction of it.

Text by Jess Saldaña

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