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Internationally Acclaimed Artist Brendan Fernandes Brings Solo Exhibition to Drexel

January 15, 2020

As One, 2015, inkjet print; courtesy of the Brendan Fernandes and Monique Meloche Gallery
As One, 2015, inkjet print; courtesy of Brendan Fernandes and Monique Meloche Gallery.

A solo exhibition by internationally acclaimed, multidisciplinary artist, Brendan Fernandes will open at the Leonard Pearlstein Gallery, of Drexel University’s Westphal College of Media Arts & Design on Tuesday, Jan. 14. The exhibition, entitled Brendan Fernandes: We Want a We – will showcase a diverse blend of performative, sculptural and photographic works from the past five years, and marks the first retrospective of this important artists work in Philadelphia. For the duration of the exhibition Drexel student dancers will engage with the space each Friday from 11 a.m. – noon from Jan. 17 through Feb. 21.

Fernandes (b. 1979, Nairobi, Kenya) is an internationally recognized Canadian artist working at the intersection of dance and visual arts. He was recently featured in the 2019 Whitney Biennial – which “explores issues of cultural displacement, migration, labor and queer subjectivity through installation, video, sculpture and dance.”  All 3500 square-feet of the Pearlstein Gallery will be activated for the exhibition of We Want a We and it will offer visitors an excellent introduction to the breadth of the young artist’s practice, which includes interactive sculpture, photographic series, video and performance from several distinct periods of his rising career. The exhibition will run through Sunday, March 15, and the gallery is open to the public Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.

An opening reception will take place on Friday, Feb. 28 from 5-6 p.m. in the URBN Annex Screening Room (3401 Filbert St.). Prior to the reception, Fernandes will speak about his contemporary art practice and "unique cultural background as a Queer, Kenyan-Indian Canadian,” as a part of Drexel’s distinguished Rankin Scholar Lecture Series. He will also host a movement-based workshop for the community – entitled Do or Die – which will take place in the A.J. Drexel Picture Gallery on the third floor of Drexel’s Main Building (3141 Chestnut St).

Insiders, 2017, inkjet prints at Seattle Art Museum; courtesy of the Brendan Fernandes and Monique Meloche Gallery

During the exhibition of We Want a We, Fernandes will work with Drexel's Dance Department to re-vision previous improvisational dance structures and create new site-specific works that respond to the architecture of the Pearlstein Gallery.

“Choreography, as I understand it, is a tool for coding and decoding the language of movement. I look at movement through queer and laboring bodies as they relate to the construction of gender roles and physicality,” Fernandes says of his newest work.

In touch, 2015 live performance, Seattle art Museum, video still; courtesy of the Brendan Fernandes and Monique Meloche Gallery

Fernandes is currently based in Chicago, his projects address issues of race, queer culture, migration, protest and other forms of collective movement. Always looking to create new spaces and new forms of agency, Fernandes’ projects take on hybrid forms: part ballet, part queer dance hall, part political protest... always rooted in collaboration and fostering solidarity. Fernandes is a graduate of the Whitney Independent Study Program (2007) and a recipient of a Robert Rauschenberg Fellowship (2014). In 2010, he was shortlisted for the Sobey Art Award, and is the recipient of a 2017 Canada Council New Chapter grant. His projects have been showcased at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York), the Museum of Modern Art (New York), The Getty Museum (Los Angeles), the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa), MAC (Montreal), among a great many others. He is currently an artist-in-residency and faculty member at Northwestern University, he is represented by Monique Meloche Gallery in Chicago. Upcoming projects in 2019 include performances and solo presentations at the Solomon R. Guggenheim, The Whitney Biennial (New York), the Smithsonian Museum of American Art (Washington), the Museum of Contemporary Art (Chicago) and the Noguchi Museum (New York).

Events associated with the exhibition are free and open to the public.   

Opening Performance
Thursday, Jan. 16 6:30 – 7:30 p.m.
To kick off the opening of the exhibition one evening performance will take place on Thursday, Jan. 16 in the Pearlstein Gallery, (3401 Filbert St.).

Weekly Dance Performances
Fridays, Jan. 17 through Feb. 21, 11 a.m. – noon
Witness Drexel’s dance students interact with the exhibition during weekly performances choreographed with Brendan Fernandes for the Pearlstein gallery space and windows. Light refreshments will be served.

Movement Workshop, Lecture and Opening Reception

Friday, Feb. 28, 1– 3 p.m.
Join Brendan Fernandes for a community movement workshop and discussion: Do or Die, in the AJ Drexel Picture Gallery, on the 3rd Floor of Drexel’s Main Building (3141 Chestnut St.).

Feb. 28, 5p.m. – 6 p.m.
Rankin Distinguished Scholar Presentation: "Brendan Fernandes: We Want a We" in the URBN ANNEX Screening Room, (3401 Filbert St.).

Feb. 28, 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.
"Brendan Fernandes: We Want a We" will offer a series of performances [performances 6:30-8:30 p.m. in the Pearlstein Gallery, (3401 Filbert St.).

All programming has been in collaboration with Drexel’s Westphal College of Media Arts and Design and The Rankin Scholar Program, Drexel’s Dance program in the Performing Arts Department, Drexel’s Art and Art History program, Drexel’s Graphic Design program, Drexel’s Women and Gender Studies program in the Sociology Department, the Drexel Collection and A.J. Drexel Picture Gallery, DART, Drexel’s Student Run Art Organization and Monique Meloche Gallery, Chicago.

To learn more about the exhibition visit here


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