Alexander Gray Associates announces representation of Chloë Bass (b. 1984). Her research-based approach to artmaking utilizes a variety of complimentary forms, including performance, installation, video, photography, sculpture, text, and audio. Bass has long structured her practice around the exploration of intimacy. Examining different social structures—families, communities, political and governmental bodies, cultural entities, etc.—the artist’s work forwards an ever-expanding understanding of this concept that is simultaneously personal, yet universal. Characterizing this approach as “an invitation to come closer,” Bass engages and implicates viewers in her modes of inquiry to encourage them to “look more closely.”
Upon receiving her Master of Fine Arts in performance and interactive media at Brooklyn College, Bass began The Bureau of Self-Recognition (2011–13), a wide-ranging project that documents the process of self-exploration through photography, performance, video, audio, lectures, workshops, and structured conversations. This work encapsulates Bass’s belief that “it is through self-recognition that we shape our worlds,” and laid the foundation for her further investigations. Building on concepts from The Bureau of Self-Recognition, over the course of three years, Bass produced The Book of Everyday Instruction (2015–18). This eight-part project examines relationships between different entities from one-on-one interactions between couples to more sprawling partnerships between individuals and their surroundings that interrogate systemic issues and socioeconomic realities.
Obligation To Others Hold Me In My Place (2018–23) moves between studies of the public realm and family interactions. A continuation of her tracing of patterns of intimacy, Bass commissioned self-documented footage of American mixed-race families, which she plans to present in an upcoming four-channel video. “The idea of mixing (racially, culturally) is so often the product of violence: war, slavery, trade,” the artist explains. “… Mixture reminds us of the dangers that bring people together, and the challenging conditions that we persist to create.”
Bass further expands on notions of familial intimacy in her Wayfinding project (2019–22). Taking its title from the architectural term for the design elements that help individuals move through a space, this installation encourages viewers to emotionally orient themselves in a site. Consisting of a series of mirror-like billboards positing open-ended questions to viewers, as well as archival images, double-sided text signs, garden markers, and an audio component, the site-specific outdoor work invites introspection. Articulating various aspects of human emotions—compassion, desire, anxiety, and loss—the meditative work speaks to Bass’s personal experience growing up in New York City. Reflecting on being alone in the city’s public spaces, Bass explains her feelings as combining “the sudden sense of everything as fascinating” with “the strange anxiety between feeling invisible and suddenly becoming aware that you are seen.”
More recent projects by Bass include Soft Services (2022), a series of sixteen sculptural stone benches inscribed with phrases written by the artist and marked with an image rendered in light-responsive pigment. This body of work is currently installed throughout Volunteer Park and outside the Henry Art Gallery in Seattle, WA. In June, #sky #nofilter: Hindsight for a Future America (2023), a participatory glass sundial Bass developed as a capstone to a series of investigations around the 2016 US presidential election, will debut at the California African American Museum (CAAM) in Los Angeles, CA. In addition, a public artwork by the artist commissioned by MTA Arts & Design for a subway station in Brooklyn will be unveiled later this year.
Bass’s nuanced, multidimensional works ultimately draw parallels between the private and public to question the way individuals navigate the world and respond to social, political, and psychological environments. “I think of all the works that I make as having the potential emotional resonance that they could remind you of something in your own life,” explains Bass, who ultimately concludes that her projects serve as “… souvenirs for memories you haven’t had yet.”
The artist’s work has been the subject of many one-person exhibitions, including Wayfinding, Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, CA (2022); #sky #nofilter: Hindsight for a Future America, co-presented by Art + Practice and California African American Museum, Los Angeles, CA (2022); Wayfinding, Pulitzer Arts Foundation, St. Louis, MO (2021); Wayfinding, St. Nicholas Park, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York (2019); The Book of Everyday Instruction, The Knockdown Center (2018); and The Bureau of Self-Recognition, Momenta Art, Brooklyn, NY (2013), among others. The artist’s work has been featured in numerous group exhibitions, including In These Truths, Albright-Knox Northland, Buffalo AKG Art Museum, NY (2022); Close to You, MASS MoCA, North Adams, MA (2022); Art on the Grid, Public Art Fund, New York (2020); Urban Design Lab: Chloë Bass and Teal Gardner, Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, Omaha, NE (2014), among others. Bass’s performances have been spotlighted at COUNTERPUBLIC, St. Louis, MO (2019); Zentrum für Kunst und Urbanistik, Berlin, Germany (2019); and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2018), among others. She is the recipient of many awards and grants, including New York University Future Imagination Fund Fellowship (2022); Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Arts and Culture Grant for SPCUNY (2021); Art Matters Fellowship (2019), among others. Bass’s major projects often culminate in publications. Working in collaboration with artists, writers, organizations, and publishers, she has released #sky #nofilter (2020); The Book of Everyday Instruction (2018); Art as Social Action (2018); Say Something, Jamie (2018); What is shared, what is offered (2017); and The Bureau of Self-Recognition (2013). The artist is an Associate Professor of Art at Queens College, CUNY, where she has co-directed Social Practice Queens (SPQ) with Dr. Gregory Sholette since 2016 and established Social Practice CUNY (SPCUNY) in 2021. Bass lives and works in New York.