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29 MARCH – 5 MAY 2024

Sibyl is pleased to present I’ve been here before…, a group exhibition curated by multidisciplinary artist and scholar Shabez Jamal (b. 1992, St. Louis,  MO). I’ve been here before is a group exhibition that explores the recursive nature of photography through the lenses of ten emerging Black artists in the United States. The exhibition examines the relationship between the Black community and the photograph and how, through interactions with the medium, Black people have been able to create and recognize language and symbols that are vital to the continued formation of an ever-changing Black artistic canon.

Though many of the artists engage with different media including video, installation, painting, ceramic, sound, and sculpture, all ground their practice in the photographic image. Each artist recognizes the inherent ability of the photograph to conjure simultaneous feelings of loss and restoration. The memorial nature of the photograph allows space for the artist to look back with a knowing eye, and to generate new futures from the images and ideas of the past.

Curator Shabez Jamal directly cites Teena Marie’s song “Deja Vu” for its descriptions of many cosmic returns to both physical and emotional spaces. The photograph has a unique capacity to transport its viewer backwards and forwards through time, as Shawn Michelle Smith notes in her book Photographic Returns. Its potent connection to memory and potential to freeze and capture time makes photography a crucial source for those concerned with engaging the past in service of a better future.

I’ve been here before… features work by John AlleyneJustin CarneyMark Anthony Brown Jr.Sean G. ClarkJen EverettFelicita “Felli” MaynardAmbrose Rhapsody MurrayLola Ayisha OgbaraKristina Kay Robinson, and Darryl DeAngelo Terrell

About Shabez Jamal

Donny Bradfield (b. 1992, St. Louis) better known as Shabez Jamal, is an interdisciplinary artist based in New Orleans, LA. Their work, rooted in still portraiture, experimental video, and performance, interrogates physical, political, and social-economical space by using queerness, not as a means of speaking about sexuality, but as a catalyst to challenge varying power relations. Often turning the lens on themself, Jamal utilizes self-portraiture as a means of radically redefining the parameters of racial and sexual identity. Jamal received their BIS from the University of Missouri – St. Louis in 2019 and received their MFA from Tulane University in the spring of 2022 where they were also awarded a Mellon Community-Engaged Research Fellowship. In 2020 Jamal was also an inaugural member of Harvard Universities Commonwealth: In the city Fellowship.


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