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Heather Dewey-Hagborg and Chelsea Manning show at Fridman Gallery

Ellen Pearlman
Posted by Ellen Pearlman
Tuesday, 26 September 2017

On August 2, 2017 Heather Dewey-Hagborg in conjunction with Chelsea Manning had a show “A Becoming Resemblance” at Fridman Gallery in New York.

Suppressed Images (2017), Shoili Kanungo, Heather Dewey-Hagborg
Suppressed Images (2017), Shoili Kanungo, Heather Dewey-Hagborg

Included in the exhibit was the piece Heather had created during her ThoughtWorks Arts Residency, the graphic short story Suppressed Images, developed with illustrator Shoili Kanungo.

The story narrated Heather’s and Chelsea Manning’s ongoing collaboration envisioning a speculative future where Obama would commute Chelsea’s jail sentence. The comic book had an imaginary ending where Chelsea visited an exhibition of her portraits by Heather.

Probably Chelsea (2017), Heather Dewey-Hagborg
Probably Chelsea (2017), Heather Dewey-Hagborg

Shockingly enough, the first part of the speculation came true just several hours after the comic was published on-line. That same day President Obama actually commuted Chelsea’s prison sentence, and she was released.

This meant that Chelsea would be able to view the portraits Heather produced from her DNA in person, as the comic had speculated.

Chelsea Manning at ‘A Becoming Resemblance’
Chelsea Manning at ‘A Becoming Resemblance’

The installation work Probably Chelsea, also included in the show, illustrated the multitude ways in which DNA can be interpreted. It is a refutation of the outmoded notions of biologically inscribed identity, and a testament to the commonality that is clearly present even at the cellular level.

Panel talk, Heather Dewey-Harborg, and critics and theorists Nora Khan, Christiane Paul
Panel talk, Heather Dewey-Harborg, and critics and theorists Nora Khan, Christiane Paul
Panel talk, Heather Dewey-Harborg, and critics and theorists Nora Khan, Christiane Paul

On September 5th, a panel was convened at Fridman Gallery with Heather Dewey-Hagborg, and curators and critics Nora Khan and Christiane Paul to discuss the rise of, and implications of genetic analysis and identity.

Residency Directors Andy McWilliams and Ellen Pearlman with Heather and the illustration by Shoili Kanungo, Suppressed Images
Residency Directors Andy McWilliams and Ellen Pearlman with Heather and the illustration by Shoili Kanungo, Suppressed Images

The panel led to interesting and engaging discussions, which will continue well beyond the show. Heather continues to pursue new work along the themes of genetic analysis and identity.