Glenn Ligon, American, born 1960
Museum purchase with funds provided by Contemporary Forum, Adam and Iris Singer, and anonymous donor
© Phoenix Art Museum. All rights reserved. Photo by Ken Howie.
Glenn Ligon is a conceptual artist whose resonant works in multiple media explore issues surrounding race, language, desire, and identity. They draw heavily on elements from the visual arts, literature, and history, as well as his own life experience as an African American and as a gay man living in the United States. Ligon has said of his work that he wants to “make language into a physical thing, something that has real weight and force to it.” To this end he frequently uses evocative text, quotations from culturally charged and historically relevant materials by writers such as James Baldwin, Jean Genet and Zora Neale Hurston, both as a source of imagery and a means of addressing the politics of representation. He works in a variety of media, including painting, neon, installation, video and print.
A palindrome is a word, phrase, or sequence of units that can be read the same way in either direction. For example, the word: madam. In this work, Ligon extends beyond the grammatical and instead, gives us a conceptual palindrome in his use of the words: face me I face you; wherein in any given relationship, the me and the you could refer alternatively to either one of two parties in any given exchange.