Sanford Biggers: a fractal approach is comprised of twenty quilt works by the artist Sanford Biggers—arranged in a grid, eight squares at its surface, twenty in its depth. By clicking on any square in the grid, the image will advance to the next. Within each square, every work can be navigated from end to end using your cursor.
Known in mathematics as self-similarity, fractal geometry presents as successive magnification or unfolding symmetry. Such is the language of crystals and galaxies, but in the practice of Sanford Biggers, scale is a tool for the discovery of both similarity and inversion. Biggers’ 2007 glass-etching, Lotus, appears from a distance as the Buddhist symbol for enlightenment, but the details of the perfectly symmetrical work reveal lotus petals comprised of bodies in the cargo hold of 18th century slave ships.
Sanford Biggers: a fractal approach unfolds like a children’s board book, early primers about composition: additive properties, similarity, and opposition. Viewers are invited to arrange details from Biggers’ quilts through successive structuring—but never afforded a global perspective. The details are demonstration of scaled disorientation. Paired with “The Great Escape,” a ballad by Moon Medicin, the work underscores the relationship between quilts and maps, borders and unending pursuits.
Released in coordination with the exhibition Sanford Biggers: Codeswitch, the digital publication is also imagined as an offering particular to our global pandemic. At a time when few will be able to travel to New York to see the works in person, a fractal approach provides an intimate encounter with every corner of these works.
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Sanford Biggers’ work is an interplay of narrative, perspective and history that speaks to current social, political and economic happenings while also examining the contexts that bore them. His diverse practice positions him as a collaborator with the past through explorations of often overlooked cultural and political narratives from American history. Working with antique quilts that echo rumors of their use as signposts on the Underground Railroad, he engages these legends and contributes to this narrative by drawing and painting directly onto them. In response to ongoing occurrences of police brutality against Black Americans, Biggers’ BAM series is composed of bronze sculptures recast from fragments of wooden African statues that have been anonymized through dipping in wax and then ballistically ‘resculpted’. Following a residency as a 2017 American Academy Fellow in Rome, the artist recently began working in marble. Drawing on and playing with the tradition of working in this medium, Biggers creates hybridized forms that transpose, combine and juxtapose classical and historical subjects to create alternative meanings and produce what he calls “future ethnographies”. As creative director and keyboardist, he fronts Moon Medicin, a multimedia concept band that straddles visual art and music with performances staged against a backdrop of curated sound effects and video. Moon Medicin performed at Open Spaces Kansas City in October 2018 and at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. in 2019.
Moon Medicin is a multimedia concept band under the creative direction of visual artist, musician, and performer Sanford Biggers. The collective performs against a backdrop of curated sound effects and images of sci-fi, punk, sacred geometry, coded symbology, film noir, minstrels, world politics, and ceremonial dance.