2018 - Ongoing
South Carolina, United States; Georgia, United States
Maximilian Thuemler's ongoing project Born From the Limb is invested in the correlation of labor, land, and migration. Focusing on the coastal regions of South Carolina and Georgia, the work touches ground at a vaguely defined point of black origin in the United States. Utilizing a combination of self-portraiture, still life, and landscape imagery, the pictures filter popular culture, folklore, myth, and art history in search of fragments related to the historic and contemporary narratives surrounding our understanding of blackness within the context of Americana. By referencing and reproducing found images of regional romanticism and combining them with photographic traces of a scarred landscape, the work seeks to highlight the discrepancy of local legacies. The interweaving of archival materials sets the landscape of memory inherent to the narrative of Born From the Limb and further amplifies the historic layering of space and time through which Thuemler and his audience move. Hereby the performative self-portraits reinvigorate a silent expanse of land with gestures derived from history's Eurocentric relationship to blackness. Thuemler's body is employed as a medium to the point of exhaustion, addressing the emblematic social and political concerns of a forgotten terrain, while considering the complexities of America's relationship to its collective past. Drawing from at times competing sources, the work understands narrative creation in spaces of omission and the presentation of splintered evidence as measures of congruent importance. Both are necessary to trace and identify the mechanisms of a past that reaches into present, yet at times is obscured by overwriting, whitewashing, and perhaps most pressingly, the forgetfulness of time that goes unrecorded. The project's developing sequence of images functions as a case study of the African American genesis in South Carolina and Georgia and simultaneously explores the possibilities of reading and evaluating broad image landscapes that allow for a critical assessment of official histories, archival narratives, and vernacular traditions.
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