Contemporary art is often defined as the art of the now. The work of Martine Syms is of this very moment. Defining herself as a conceptual entrepreneur, she adopts any discipline, any distribution method, any formal strategies and models that respond to the shifting boundaries of culture and business. Regardless of the lens she is using, her work investigates how Blackness is circulated as an image. One of her main interests has been the entertainment industry, especially film. Black references are at the core of the movies - black gestures, movement, language style, and fashion all essentially shape what we see on the screen. Through her work Syms pushes us to see that more clearly.
With her installation at the Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU, Martine Syms moves into examining technology, specifically artificial intelligence and social media. In this space, unlike entertainment, there is very little, if any, reference to Blackness. The third “release” of what Syms refers to as a research project, Shame Space asks what Blackness and Black femininity might look like in this space. Amber Esseiva, assistant curator at the ICA, talks about Martine Syms and this paradigm-shifting installation that happily raises many more questions than it answers.