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Muse Dodd

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The Work

Coming Soon
Reparations Realized
Playlist – various artists (vinyl decal), 2021
Origins of Blackness
Video (various stills), 2018

(See webuiltthis.house/exhibition-images for information on other works shown)

Curator Essay

How do you remember and what do you choose to forget?

Muse Dodd (they/them) is a Multidisciplinary Artist, Curator and DJ from Severn, Maryland currently based in Atlanta. Muse, a Howard University alumni with a Bachelor of Arts in Film Production, is an active member of the DC art scene having performed at locations such as The DC Arts Center. Choosing personal and collective perspectives of trauma, they depict stories in their artwork through ritual and collective dreaming.

Muse utilizes the body and forms of movement to depict the lived experience of Africans in America, focusing on the process and alchemizing pain. Muse’s Origins of Blackness combines performance art, found footage, and immersive sound design to provide a visual representation of the Black community’s resilience and ability to reclaim the videographic technology that has historically been manipulated to reinforce white supremacy. The projected film opens with performers covered in powdery black makeup, placed in a completely white square room as eerie vocalizations dominate the soundscape, the shot panning from left to right. Throughout the video the performers investigate this white cube while using ritual-inspired movements to interact with its walls in an attempt to break free before embracing each other and slowly collapsing to the ground. Prior to this collapse that concludes the film, the passive subjects become the active watchers as they interact with the camera by maintaining direct inquisitive eye contact while slowly approaching the lens, judging the same viewers who have historically surmised them with prejudicial generalizations formed via the representations of the Black community in photography and film. Muse visually edits and reconceptualizes found footage such as Jim Crow era black face skits, a cell phone recording of an elderly Black man singing, a Black man’s smile, Black people dancing, and the infamous Kanye West “slavery is a choice” rant. Sonically, Muse remixes the uncanny opening track that samples Flying Lotus’ Orbit Brazil with an old slave song that transitions to a hype beat. Following the excerpt from Kanye West’s rant, the film concludes with Bonga’s mona ki ngi xica (Synapson remix).

These elements combine to highlight the impact of the media on the Black community throughout American history as Africans in America process their past and reform their future in an attempt to free themselves from the confines of the white supremacist standards that dominate both media and society. Muse also curated a Spotify playlist to accompany the exhibition featuring sonics essential to not only DC culture but African Americans as a whole. Muse's acoustical reflections uplift the overall themes of the visual artworks throughout WE BUILT THIS HOUSE and seek to remind audiences of the show’s dedication to conveying the humanity of those who reside within our nation and our nation's capital.

- Grayland Smith (VCU Kinetic Imaging, BFA 2021)
- Jasmine Elmore (VCU Photography + Film, BFA 2022)

Artist Bio

Muse Dodd (they/them) is a Multidisciplinary Artist, Curator and DJ from Severn, MD currently based in Atlanta. Their work centers on the questions, how do you remember? and what do you choose to forget? Through the act of remembering, Muse uses their body to map the lived experience of Africans in America. Muse channels trauma to connect with, process and alchemize pain; both personal and collective through movement, ritual and collective dreaming. Muse holds a BA in Film Production from Howard University and studied at the Film Academy in Prague. Muse is a Source Studio Fellow and recipient of the Corrina Mehiel Grant. Muse is a 2019-2020 Leslie Lohman Museum Artist Fellow and was the 2019 DCAC Curatorial Fellow. A former Artist-in-Residence at the Flux Factory, they were also a 2018 Artist-in-Residence at the ARoS Museum in Denmark. Muse's video work has been commissioned for performances at The Shed, Mabou Mines Theater, and Dixon Place. Muse has also screened and exhibited work at Lincoln Center, The BWI Marshall Airport, Prince George’s African American Museum and Cultural Center, The DC Arts Center, and The Flux Factory. Through their work, Muse hopes to create space for Black bodies to be free, if only for a frame.