Human Interest
Audio Guide Playlist

Listen to commentary by artists and scholars on selected works in Human Interest: Portraits from the Whitney’s Collection, including Thelma Golden, K8 Hardy, Byron Kim, Deana Lawson, and Joan Semmel.


Kerry Nolan: The gold plating of the sneakers in Gary Simmons’s Lineup makes them look almost like giant bronzed baby shoes or trophies. Despite the plating, you might still be able to recognize the different brands. Nike, Adidas, Puma. The sneakers stand in a row before a police lineup, the height chart painted against the wall of the Museum itself. But where are the suspects, the people who would occupy these shoes? The artist, Gary Simmons:

Gary Simmons: That’s what the piece hinges on, is what these people might be. And, you know what our assumptions are, or what potentially our assumptions are of the identities of these people. That’s why I really wanted to remove the actual identity and place that question in the viewer’s mind, of who you would think would be in this lineup.

Kerry Nolan: Simmons refers here to law enforcement’s tendency to view young African-American men, particularly those whose style of dress might include shoes like these, as perpetrators of crime, making them potential victims themselves at the hands of the police or even of their peers.

Gary Simmons:  A lot of kids were shooting each other over their sneakers. In a way, it was not so much a carjacking, but it was more of a sneaker jacking. So I was really looking at that kind of violence and how was that structured and who was supporting that, and who was driving that kind of market, that economy.


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