What my art-work can’t do

Artist Talk with Kandis Williams

Sunday, September 16, 2018
3:00 – 4:30 pm

Frye Auditorium

Kandis Williams produces large-scale works on paper that use the mechanics of collage as a deliberate metaphor for violence, severance, and reattachment. Her works track the philosophical constructs of difference as it manifests in systemic iterations of state violence, governance, and authority in sexuality, culture, and self. Williams makes idiosyncratic collage images—topologies fitted from visual content of incidents of sociological chaos. Her works are often set against monochromatic gradients, suggestive of deep space and the occurrence of these incidents over time, compounding the horror and fascination with both physical and ideological dissonance. Williams implicates herself and the audience in the intoxication of commodity-fetishism.

In this talk, Kandis Williams will discuss the theoretical underpinnings of her artistic practice by situating her work among various therapeutic expectations, models, and theorists including Bracha Ettinger’s concepts of borderlinking and artworking, Hortense Spiller’s writings on substitutive identities, and Calvin Warren’s concept of “the violence without end, without reprieve, without reason or logic” with which the black subject is incessantly met. In doing so, Williams will explore the potential for aesthetics to engender new ascriptions of meaning, as well as the limitations of those opportunities.

Kandis Williams (American, b. 1985, Baltimore, Maryland) received her BFA in 2008 from the Cooper Union School of Art, New York. Williams lives between Los Angeles and Berlin. Her recent exhibitions include solo shows at 215 Madison Street, New York; Works on Paper, Vienna; Night Gallery, Los Angeles; SADE, Los Angeles; and St. Charles Projects, Baltimore; and a performance and workshop at Human Resources, Los Angeles. She was recently included in "A Woman's Work," a PopRally event at MoMA organized by Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah. Her work has also been exhibited at The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; The Underground Museum, Los Angeles; Neu West and 68 Projects, Berlin; and The Breeder, Athens, among other spaces. Williams has an active curatorial and writing practice, and runs Cassandra Press with artist Taylor Doran.

Kandis Williams. Esophagus Pin-up, 2016. Vinyl adhesive on Plexiglas. Courtesy of the artist and Night Gallery, Los Angeles.


Free tickets are available on a first-come-first-served basis, and may be picked up at the desk in the foyer outside the auditorium thirty minutes prior to the start of the program. There is no late seating, so please arrive early. As a special benefit, Frye members may reserve free tickets in advance to guarantee seating. To reserve, call 206 432 8289 or email rsvp@fryemuseum.org at least two days prior to the event. Each member may reserve two tickets and may claim their tickets one hour prior to the start of the program.