Alexis C. McDonald is a visual artist who uses installation, video, collage, and found materials. Growing up in Atlanta, McDonald was exposed to hip hop very early on and sees it as a site for self expression and sexual liberation. McDonald’s works demonstrate how black women integrate their affinity for hip hop with a politics of resistance. She recognizes the agency these women possess and encourages the audience to confront the limitations placed on black women preventing them from accessing and capitalizing on their sensuality. In May 2020, McDonald received her MFA from the University of Southern California’s Roski School of Art & Design. She is currently based in Miami, Fl.
On May 17, 2019 Megan Thee Stallion released her debut mixtape Fever. Upon listening to the mixtape Alexis C. McDonald, a fan of Megan Thee Stallion, was reminded of her own childhood, confidently singing along to provocative songs such as “My Neck, My Back” by Khia. In her video LIPZ (2020), McDonald brings this memory into physicality by whispering the lyrics of excerpts from various songs which she candidly refers to as “the soundtrack of [her] childhood.” The whispering and wetness of her mouth evoke the
occasionally unsettling eroticism of ASMR videos. The track list includes works by Khia, Lil Kim, and Trina, among others. As described by the title, LIPZ, the video focuses tightly around McDonald’s mouth as she whispers through these highly sexual lyrics. Through this, the artist obscures her identity, while highlighting the sexual and erotic visuals and sounds associated with one’s mouth.
A common theme in McDonald’s practice, particularly apparent in LIPZ, is her exploration as an adolescent of black female representation and the complex layering of sexuality, hip hop music, and capital. According to McDonald, the depictions of black females in hip hop music tend to be rather limiting, exclusive of queerness. There is a rather specific type of black female representation that is hypervisible in media that McDonald both participates in, yet is concurrently at odds with. This nuanced tension is what the artist is so keen to shine a light upon.
– Carlo Tuason
ABOUT THE CURATOR
Carlo Tuason is a curator, scholar, and musician based in Los Angeles. His research explores the entanglements between authority, power, creative resistance, and visual/sonic cultures in Hong Kong and throughout East/Southeast Asia. In particular, he’s interested in the shared embodied and visceral aesthetics of authority and resistance within social movements. He holds an MA from the University of Southern California in Curatorial Practices and the Public Sphere, a BM in Music Performance, and a BA in International Affairs from the University of Cincinnati. He releases music under the stage name “Chay Guan.”