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Deborah Roberts: in-gé-nue

Fort Gansevoort presents in-gé-nue, the first solo exhibition in New York City featuring the artwork of Austin, Texas-based artist, Deborah Roberts. The show, which opens on November 9 features newly produced works on paper and panel. Roberts’ central concern is the depiction of beauty, especially as it relates to the development of self-image in black women.

Combining found photographs, painting, and drawing, Roberts’ collages critically engage the image of a young girl, an in-gé-nue, whose naivety and innocence protect her from the full weight of visual culture, while also making her vulnerable to its influence. Her body image is constructed through the visual material produced by art history, popular culture, black culture and American history. Using this visual lexicon, Roberts grapples with notions of blackness, the dysfunctional legacy of color-ism, and the psychology of double consciousness that pervades the African American community.  

In addition to the collages, the exhibition includes a series of hand-painted serigraphs featuring the names of what one may consider to be stereotypical ‘black’ sounding names. Along with the collaged figure, Roberts is curious about naming and the affect it has as an image to preconceive – as well as reveal and conceal the self. This show is a timely contribution in a moment when the embodiment of race, gender and a number of identity positions are under revision. Roberts asks us to think not only about the history of representation, but also about the present ways images function to reform previously limited scopes of beauty, and the implications that these expanded definitions have on future generations of young black women.