Kevin Beasley (b. 1985, Lynchburg, VA) engages with the legacy of the American South through a new installation that centers on a cotton gin motor from Maplesville, Alabama. In operation from 1940 to 1973, the motor powered the gins that separated cotton seeds from fiber. Here, the New York-based artist uses it to generate sound as if it were a musical instrument, creating space for visual and aural contemplation. Through the use of customized microphones, soundproofing, and audio hardware, the installation divorces the physical motor from the noises it produces, enabling visitors to experience sight and sound as distinct. As an immersive experience, the work serves as a meditation on history, land, race, and labor. This is Beasley’s first solo exhibition at a New York museum, and his most ambitious work to date.
This exhibition is organized by Christopher Y. Lew, Nancy and Fred Poses Associate Curator, with Ambika Trasi, curatorial assistant.
Kevin Beasley is part of the Whitney’s emerging artists program, sponsored by
Generous support for this exhibition is provided by Marie-Josée and Henry Kravis.
Additional support for this exhibition is provided by Lonti Ebers, Elise Jaffe and Jeffrey Brown, Miyoung Lee and Neil Simpkins, and Laura Rapp and Jay Smith.
Curatorial research and travel were funded by Rosina Lee Yue and Bert A. Lies, Jr., MD.
The creation of this work was made possible by a generous contribution from VIA Art Fund.