A Welcoming Place pays homage to a social justice tradition of oral communication and codependency where Black and Brown Indigenous people point out environmental manifestations—historical and societal markers of anti-blackness that pervade colonized landscapes. In this work Jackson translates a sense of mobility and confidence to convey the protection and care within their community.
Jackson’s recent work explores the term ‘forecasting’ as an artistic lens in social engagement via re-coding meteorological language as a means to shift perspectives of what is understood as knowable. Forecasting, Jackson argues, is the product of ‘taking temperature’ of an area, a practice of communication and codependency that relies on pointing out systemic forms and manifestations of anti-blackness in colonized landscapes. Forecasting is not a metaphor for hive mind mentality but rather an argument for acknowledging and legitimizing the collective memory of marginalized groups. Forecasting is not only a broad acknowledgement of seeking alternative entry points when approaching a hostile region or when faced with environmental disasters; forecasting is also a method of risk calculation based on historical events and communal trust.
A Welcoming Place presents a poetic narrative stitched out of six conversations with Black and Brown Indigenous Austinites, half of whom were born and raised in Austin. Since Jackson arrived in 2017 to attend the University of Texas at Austin for their MFA in Print and Transmedia, they have been cultivating these intimate relationships. Each conversation focuses on advice given to Black and Brown newcomers as well as highlighting each individual’s relationship to the city of Austin, with an emphasis on East Austin. Each interview will be made available in full towards the end of the exhibition. The visuals in this exhibition highlight sites in West, South, and East Austin according to where Freedman communities once stood. The artist presents themselves as a proxy figure, holding a black weather balloon as a metaphorical gesture of taking temperature. Aiding these scenes are re-animated archive footage of US and British weather balloon systems. Additionally, online archival footage depicting Black and Brown life and various public archival imagery.
Jackson’s exhibition celebrates the local power of Black and Brown Indigenous oral histories as they have impacted their experiences, using analogy to insist that communication, intimate codependency, and aesthetics shared between Black and Brown Indigenous people throughout a region is Black cultural technology. From the Greek word tekhnologia [to mean ‘systematic treatment’ derived from tekhne meaning ‘art, craft’], forecasting is a valid form of Black cultural technology for Black and Brown Indigenous people to identify and locate the illusive underpinnings and characteristics of an unwelcoming place.
About the Artist
Ariel René Jackson is a Black creole anti-disciplinary* film-based artist whose practice considers land and landscape as sites of internal representation. Themes of transformation are embedded in their interest and application of repurposed imagery and objects, video, sound, and performance. Exploring how culture is inherited, Jackson modifies familial and antique farming, household, and educational tools and furniture, hacking each object’s purpose and meaning with nature-based material and weather based icons. They were born and raised in Louisiana with their maternal family who descend from generations of farmers. Jackson currently lives and works in Austin, TX where they teach foundation courses at Texas State University. Jackson is an alum of the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (2019), Royal College of Art Exchange Program (2018), and The Cooper Union (2013). Their work has been shown nationally at various galleries and institutions such as the Dallas Contemporary (2021); Jacob Lawrence Gallery, Seattle (2021); Contemporary Art Center, New Orleans (2018); Depaul Art Museum, Chicago (2018); Rhode Island School of Design Museum (2017); and Studio Museum in Harlem (2016).
*term coined by Trinidadian artist Kearra Amaya Gopee