born Port Jefferson, NY
lives and works Grand Rapids, MI and New York, NY
campbean [at] gvsu [dot] edu
Using sculpture and site-specific installation interwoven with video projection, Anna Campbell’s work deconstructs otherwise clearly legible signifiers of masculinity and heteronormativity in the service of illustrating alternate histories of attachment and desire. Campbell maintains an active exhibition record including solo exhibits at BOSI Contemporary in New York, Tractionarts in LA, and the Window Into Houston at the Blaffer Art Museum in Houston, Texas, as well as group exhibits at Seoul National University of Science and Technology in South Korea, Queens College Art Center in New York, and the Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago. She earned a BA in Studio Art from the College of Wooster and an MFA in Sculpture from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Campbell teaches sculpture, installation and curation as Associate Professor in the Art & Design Department at Grand Valley State University in Michigan.
The desires of a culture are laid bare by the tools and props that construct and then accumulate around scenes of the “ideal,” from heroic masculinity to privileged forms of desire. Through sculpture, installation and video, my work conflates and abstracts queer and ostensibly normative bodies, cutting from narratives otherwise understood as impermeable, and presenting viewers with assemblages of resultant slices. This critique via form, space, and image challenges the social dynamics that reinforce our constructions of the ideal, the universal versus the deviant, and the particular or minor, and owes much to the radical potential of failure, a deconstructing force that has been instrumental in shaping my work.My engagement with materials shifts fluidly based on the intended intervention. For the Etiquette Kit series, 2 x 4s, mirror balls, latex ruffles, custom cast concrete cinderblocks, balsa wood trusswork, and fishnet fabric combine in a continuing push to create hybrid forms whose aggressively vulnerable queer signifiers are interdependent with their seemingly normative and immutable authoritarian forms. Citing the staging of ideal recognized “types” through construction motifs, the vernacular of furniture, and accessories with baggage, this series points to larger themes and social constructions to insinuate divergent possibilities. To this end, gender inversion and queer politics infuse this work and act as a lens to re-examine common forms and spaces. This constellation of tactics re-forms expectations of desire and challenges the social and political impact of pursuing those desires.
Sites, in addition to citation, are core to my practice. Travelling to specific sites – to learn how to box in an all women’s boxing gym in Toronto, to study the collections of the Lesbian Herstory Archives in Brooklyn, or to retreat to a residency at Ox-Bow, have been key to focusing my studio practice. Engaging the specific historical and social contexts of the sites where I exhibit work offers a further means to connect with the legacy of a place. For Etiquette Kit, the site under investigation is the white cube gallery, a space that offers itself as neutral, but is as cluttered with the residue of power and desire as the mind’s own unconscious. The free associations, slices, and expressions of a cultivated instinct that constitute this series play with the aesthetics of neutrality. Etiquette Kit suggestively offers the tools and props to enact counter-narratives for what may be considered proper, and to champion alternate approaches to behavior preparedness.