Artist Sondra Perry uses video, performance, and digital manipulations to explore notions of identity, representation, and Blackness, both from an intimately personal perspective and a historical lens. Expanded to monumental proportions across the billboards of Times Square, Flesh Wall (2016-2020) is an animation of a super-modulated, highly processed image of the artist’s skin — so magnified that it takes on a nearly unrecognizable form. Through this process, “the flesh loses all kind of realistic render, but you gain some kind of understanding of what creature-ness is or what identity means outside the label of human,” says Perry.
Multiplied on over 70 digital displays across the district every midnight in February, casting a glow over the plazas below, Flesh Wall carves out a bodily presence in the built urban landscape — an immersive, pulsing connective tissue within the digital and physical architecture.
Perry uses a variety of computer-based media in her practice, including tools like blue screens, avatars, open-source software, and found footage from YouTube. In Flesh Wall, she employs Blender Software’s ‘Ocean’ modifier tool — an open-source graphics program normally used to create 3-D renderings of oceans. By placing her own flesh within the context of the ocean, Perry makes a statement on the Black diasporic experience: “In the context of the transatlantic slave trade, the ocean is a literal modifier to culture, bodies, movement,” says the artist.
This Midnight Moment marks Perry's return to Times Square and the program. In the emergent years of her career as a globally-exhibited artist, Perry worked for Times Square Arts where she supported the Midnight Moment program. With this Midnight Moment, she returns to Times Square Arts, this time as a featured artist.
Sondra Perry (b.1986, Perth Amboy, New Jersey) received a BFA from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University in 2012 and an MFA from Columbia University in 2015. Perry attended the Core Program, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston in 2015–2017.
Perry has had solo exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Cleveland, Ohio (2019); Serpentine Gallery, London (2018); Seattle Art Museum, Seattle (2017–18); and the Kitchen, New York (2016). Her work has been featured in numerous group exhibitions including Manual Override, The Shed, New York (2019–20); New Order: Art and Technology in the Twenty-First Century, Museum of Modern Art, New York (2019); Art in the Age of the Internet 1989 to Today, Institute of Contemporary Art Boston, Boston, Massachusetts (2018); Trigger: Gender as a Tool and a Weapon, New Museum, New York ( 2017–18); and Greater New York, MoMA PS1, Long Island City, New York (2015), among others.
Perry’s work was exhibited in the 10th Berlin Biennial for Contemporary Art, and the Biennial of Contemporary Art, Rennes, France (both 2018). Perry was the recipient of the 2018 Nam June Paik Award. She lives and works in Newark, New Jersey.