The Supper Club Book Reviewed in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Dinner in New York

[image description: (on previous page and below) cover of The Supper Club by Elia Alba which features portraits of six artists, each is separated by white lines, and the title of the book is superimposed on the images]

Is identity what makes us who we are from the beginning and forever? Or is it just a sociopolitical construct? Since 2012, the New York multimedia artist Elia Alba has dedicated herself to these questions in a large-scale project that combines photography and discourse.

that people with dark skin are not, or at least not properly, represented in the public sphere, including the art public. She invites alternating groups of artists, curators and intellectuals to dinner and discusses details of this topic with them. Later she portrays some of the guests. The conversations documented in the photo text book "The Supper Club" are revealing because they owe their existence to the principle of polyphony. While clichés are avoided or at least dissolved in the discussions, this is not always possible in the meticulous photographic (self)-staging of some of the participants. The artist and psychoanalyst Rachelle Mozman, who is known as "The Ethnographer", sits in a white frill dress, an old man as a measuring device in her hand, next to a kitsch bunny in a kind of jungle of leaves. While the conceptual artist Hank Willis Thomas as "The Professor" in a dark suit is standing behind piles of books with a skeptical look in a schoolroom. Instead of ethnic and gendered, ty- pisier-allegoric ascriptions are now used to describe the character, personality, or professional focus of the sitter. Disguised irony? No, perhaps rather the first necessary step on the way to a sovereign representation.


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Anjuli Nanda