Danielle Dean, A Portrait of True Red, 2016 Courtesy the artist.
A Portrait of True Red (2016) is a first-person narrative told by Sam Jones, a fictional character who merges with a pair of Nike’s “True Red Vampire” sneakers (Dunk Low Pro SB, 2003). Her story weaves together historical accounts and contemporary texts from numerous sources, including: Tacky’s Rebellion, a slave uprising in Jamaica (1760); police brutality towards Black Panther member Assata Shakur; violence against factory workers in contemporary China; and excerpts from Nike advertising copy and product reviews. Minimally staged against a backdrop of cast shadows that recall the bodily gestures and athletic poses from Nike commercials, the protagonist dons a pair of the vermillion trainers while relating a tale of vampiric colonialism and the violence of subjugation. Dean’s work examines the construction and commodification of race, gender, age, and class, while exploring themes of colonialism and global capital, often by blending fiction and reality and blurring subject and object.
Since 2017, Danielle Dean is Artist-in-Residence and Head of the Photography Department at Cranbrook Academy of Art. Her work has been presented at numerous venues in the U.S. and abroad, including: Lafayette Anticipations, Paris; Studio Museum Harlem, New York; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Detroit.
Danielle Dean: A Portrait of True Red is organized by Cranbrook Art Museum and curated by Andrew Blauvelt, Director with the assistance of Sarah Doty, Associate
Curator of Education.
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