Break Bread with Me
30 October – 6 November 2020
VLTV 009 | De’Anne Crooks | Break Bread with Me
Break Bread with Me is an exploration and reflection of how performance and text exist on various bodies; how the words that one individual has written resides in the mouths of those who did not write the words but live them. Break Bread with Me celebrates Blackness, investigates organic performance and uncovers fellowship through digital devices.
The text is an amalgamation of automatic writings entitled Aisle 15 and Second-generation-ness written by the artist in January 2020. Although this began as an opportunity for De’Anne to appreciate and understand how her work is interpreted by and resonates with her peers, the work becomes symbolic of intimacy, respect, and love amongst Black womxn.
Using a collection of words De’Anne is apprehensive to call poetry, seven individuals unpack themes of migration, belonging and intersectionality in a collective Zoom reading. The selection of each participant is a deliberate representation of who they are in relation to the artist. To read in this way, with these individuals is personal, exposing and replicates the way in which members of De’Anne’s childhood church would read a bible passage together; it was in this Pentecostal church that De’Anne first explored her voice.
De’Anne Crooks’ practice revolves around the integral conversations that require a contemporary vehicle of communication. Generally, investigating large topics such as identity politics, but focusing on the strategically unexplored areas, she uses the necessary media to critique social constructs, the value of belonging and colonization as currency. In most cases her practice, and the outcomes are a result of play and the process of playing.
As an artist-educator, much of her current work considers the collaborative and collective value of others. Viewing herself as a critical partner to her students, she has begun to use her pedagogical experience outside of the formal classroom space; considering her practice as a form of activism; existing beyond the role of artist and/or teacher. She considers her art to be a calm and collected delivery of unapologetic, deliberate and fervent explorations of a problematic society. In truth, she feels like this is a love letter to marginalised groups of people whose voice is often disregarded. If, through her art, she can represent and relay a fraction of one’s experience, then she feels that her art has done exactly what art is supposed to do.
In her 2019 arts council supported solo exhibition, ‘Two Truths and a Lie’, she challenged the discounted experiences of existing at the intersections of Black British labels, the overwhelming stigmas clinging to mental health and the dangerous trend of embracing self-deprecation as an identity. Her current body of work was birthed from the premise of 3 of the exhibited paintings and now exist as references parallel to her recent commissions. She has found the journey between painting and video art to be the most fascinating aspect of her practice and it is what lies in her collection of sketchbooks that are most essential to her developing works.