Atlanta, GA (September 13, 2023) – UTA Artist Space is pleased to present Some Believe It To Be Conspiracy, the debut solo presentation with rising artist Emmanuel Massillon since UTA Fine Arts announced his representation in 2022. The exhibition will be on view from September 22 through October 21, showcasing an entirely new body of work alongside an ambitious land art project in partnership with the local dirt bike community in Atlanta timed to Atlanta Art Week.
Massillon’s conceptual works have garnered attention for their incorporation of found objects such as bullet shells, dirt, and wood, creating thought-provoking pieces that explore the intricate connections between race, identity, and culture within the African diaspora. Drawing on the legacy of Southern Black sculptors, Massillon’s art delves into themes of conspiracy and gentrification, interweaving memories from his upbringing in the inner city of Washington D.C. with historic and current events.
Thirteen new sculptures in Some Believe It To Be Conspiracy explore conspiracies that have deeply impacted the Black community, such as mass incarceration, the profound impact of the drug epidemic, manipulation of Black music and culture, and flaws in the judicial and medical systems. (Jab)Tuskegee Experiment (Wooden Tower), for example, explores the deep-rooted distrust experienced by Black people in the medical community, drawing historical reference from the federally funded experiment known as the Tuskegee Syphilis Study. The base of the sculpture is made of found wood collected by Massillon, with an addition of wax alluding to preservation and concealing uncomfortable truths. Jab confronts viewers with the lasting impact of historical trauma, resonating with contemporary complexities and the enduring struggle for trust in healthcare systems.
Music and language play a vital role in Massillon’s practice; he compares his process to that of a sample producer, sampling and remixing found objects, images, and experiences into new collage-based works. Drawing inspiration from artists like Terry Adkins and Thornton Dial who layer personal narratives into their art, Massillon fuses his own ideology and background into multimedia assemblages, installations, and performances. For Massillon, each work becomes part of a larger conceptual “album,” weaving together a cohesive story arc that engages social commentary, identity, and the African diaspora. Music genres such as Jazz, R&B, and Rap, with their clever use of puns and street vernacular, serve as essential preservers of Black culture in America, and add a rich dimension to his artistic expression.
“I created this body of work to explore different conspiracies within the Black community so we can think about them in new ways and try to find solutions to the systemic challenges we face. My artistic practice is all about getting people to think differently,” says Massillon.
Coinciding with the second edition of Atlanta Art Week (October 2-8, 2023), Massillon will present a public performance, “Imprints of Connection,” which culminates in a semi-permanent earth artwork. Collaborating with the local dirt bike group, atlbikelife, he will utilize the marks left by their tire tracks to etch an elaborate design on the land. This installation draws inspiration from African fractals, widely used in African indigenous architecture and design, as well as the conspiracies surrounding UFO crop circles. The performance and resulting earth work will serve as a potent symbol of community, resilience, and self-expression in Atlanta.
“Emmanuel has the genius ability to compound a myriad of influences, materials, and techniques, including Haitian and African woodcarving, to reveal the interconnectedness of contemporary diasporic experiences,” said Bridgette Baldo, Director of UTA Artist Space Atlanta.
Tony Parker, Sales Director of UTA Artist Space Atlanta continues: “The connectivity between systems of oppression and youth rebellion speaks loudly through Emmanuel’s work. The youth deserve to be heard. Emmanuel’s work will speak for generations.”
ABOUT EMMANUEL MASSILLON
Emmanuel Massillon (b. 1998) is a conceptual artist who works in several different mediums, including painting, photography, performance, and sculpture. An African American of Haitian descent, Massillon explores the complex history of race, identity, culture, and its relation to people of the African diaspora. His upbringing in the inner city of Washington D.C. shapes the unique narrative, centered around politically charged topics to the more quotidian aspects of day-to-day life that he strives to convey through his work. Language and materials play an important role, incorporating visual puns and examples of street vernacular. With influences as diverse as folk art, music, art history, and African history, Massillon uses a multiplicity of reference points to convey his ideas in a simple yet evocative manner. Massillon is currently pursuing his BFA in Fine Arts at The School of Visual Arts in New York. His work is held in the permanent collection of the Baltimore Museum of Art.
ABOUT UTA ARTIST SPACE
Since the establishment of its flagship Beverly Hills location in 2018, UTA Artist Space has been committed to showcasing art by globally recognized talent. With the opening of a new Atlanta office and gallery in spring 2023, UTA Artist Space has expanded its impressive vision and reach across the United States. Over the past few years, the gallery’s original location has presented notable exhibitions with interdisciplinary artists and creatives, including The Estate of Ernie Barnes, Enrique Martínez Celaya, Mandy El-Sayegh, Nicholas Kontaxis, Arcmanoro Niles, Ferrari Sheppard, and more. UTA presented a series of pop-up exhibitions at Atlanta’s historic Pullman Yards before inaugurating its permanent gallery space in March 2023 with a solo exhibition by Lonnie Holley.
UTA Artist Space, Beverly Hills is located at 403 Foothill Road and is open from 10am-5pm Tuesday through Friday and 11am-4pm on Saturday. UTA Artist Space, Atlanta is located at 1401 Peachtree Street and is open from 10am-5pm Tuesday through Friday and 11am-4pm on Saturday. UTA Artist Space, New York’s pop-up gallery is located at the High Line Nine, 507 W 27th St, New York, and is open from Tuesday through Saturday from 10am-6pm.
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