Kim Dacres - Sojourner (2022)
African-American artist Kim Dacres (b. Bronx, US, 1986, lives in Harlem, US) created a new work for GODHEAD, a gleaming pitch-black female figure. With her sculptures of humans, Dacres refers to the black people from her own community in Harlem, New York and the black women who inspire her. Sojourner means ‘temporary resident’, but Dacres is also alluding to Sojourner Truth, a black woman born into chattel slavery in 1797 in a Dutch settlement in the State of New York – which meant that Sojourner Truth was forced to also speak Dutch. After her escape, she fought against slavery, violence and racism and stood up for women’s rights, travelling all around America to give speeches.
Dacres makes sculptural portraits of used rubber car and bicycle tyres. Her method consists of collecting, dismantling and reassembling tyres, which are held together with screws and braiding techniques and are sometimes sprayed with lacquer paint. The rubber is transformed into abstract shapes, which evoke associations with muscles, bones, skin and hair.
The use of the rubber tyre is significant for Dacres. The material is black, strong and resilient, symbolic of the people she depicts. Rubber also symbolises the universal sense of mobility and freedom associated with driving and cycling, which Dacres also wants to evoke.
With her sculptures, she honours people of colour with the monumentality that has often been taken from them. Sojourner is a tribute to Sojourner Truth’s intrepid and tireless travels throughout an America that was hostile to women and black people in order to spread the message that she, too, was a human being. The basis of the sculpture consists of several layers of rubber tyres that symbolise the various dimensions of Truth’s life: mother, woman, activist, black person. The larger-than-life head refers to her wisdom, the bicycle parts and other decorations are intended to represent the sacred act of first listening and then speaking, so that individuals can learn, and the braids allude both to a crown and to Sojourner Truth’s possible hairstyle, hidden beneath her head covering.
Kim Dacres never exhibited in the Netherlands before and GODHEAD was her second exhibition in Europe.