Subterranean Politics is an exhibition comprised of visual art by artist and writer RJ Eldridge. An extended meditation on the Black political unconscious, yearning, and the surreal self, it will include paintings, drawings and photographs made from 2013-present. The title is borrowed from a phrase in Saidiya Hartman’s Scenes of Subjection: Here I do not mean to suggest that everyday practices were strategies of passive revolution but merely to emphasize that peregrinations, surreptitious appropriation, and moving about were central features of resistance or what
could be described as the subterranean “politics” of the enslaved.
Statement by the artist: In these works, I meditate on my years in Chicago through the multiple lenses of my identities and the historical significance of the past 5 years. These works are informed by my personal experiences as well as by the conversations black artists and thinkers are having about experiences like mine in this time. The titles of many of the works invite the viewer to consider the ways black thinkers, writers and artists are speaking widely and richly to black experience, and through it expanding our understanding of subjecthood, personhood, and consciousness. I’m interested in how black thought travels and is noted through mark-making that is both figurative and abstract; and how black collage work engages acts of the unconscious reformulation of the world through reversal, displacement, redaction (and how, as Cristina Sharpe has written, black redaction can exist as an act of care).