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Shaun Leonardo: The Breath of Empty Space


MASS MoCA / North Adams / Art

This summer, at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Cleveland, an exhibition of drawings by Shaun Leonardo was quietly shuttered. The museum made a public statement that included the phrase “We encountered a troubling community response.” The drawings, Leonardo told The New York Times, were conceived as a rebuttal to the “empty messaging coming out of primarily white art institutions since the death of George Floyd.” Empty is the antonym. Reimagining shocking images of racism taken from various media, Leonardo renders the scenes in charcoal drawings that employ blurring, die-cut, and mirrored tint—techniques that accentuate the way content is framed by collective memory. Thus far, at MASS MoCA, there has not been a troubling community response. —E.C.

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