Tameka Norris - Meka Jean: Recovery

Feb. 14, 2015 - April 11, 2015

Opening reception Feb. 14, 2015, 6 p.m. - 9 p.m.

Tameka Norris, Meka Jean: Too Good For You, 2014, Video still, Four minutes and 36 seconds.

Emerson Dorsch is pleased to announce Meka Jean: Recovery, an exhibition by Tameka Norris. The show will include her feature-length film Meka Jean: How She Got Good, accompanied by re-mastered sound, fabric paintings in the round (aka soft sculptures), a new video Recovery, photographs and small paintings.

First screened during Prospect 3 in New Orleans, the film tracks the semi-autobiographical character Meka Jean as she endeavors to improve herself, to seek artistic success and individual empowerment. Primarily set in post-Katrina New Orleans, where the artist lives and works, How She Got Good treats the city as a character as well, baring its currents and contradictions while we witness the same in Meka Jean. We see the character mimic overtly sexualized women characters in rap videos, and personify different types: a rap groupie, a rap video dancer, a rap diva, a self-empowered artist, an artist with gut-wrenching nerves, a collaborator, a sexy woman, a smart and serious woman, a black woman, nakedly grieving and striving. The many versions of Meka Jean - albeit in one black female body - form a filmic collage as she encounters various modern rituals for cleansing, improving or elevating oneself in terms of class, health, spirituality, adulthood, music or art. She is the inspiration, the creation and the creator. For Norris the film was, at the time, a culmination of a body of work that was about owning her image.

Tameka Norris screens this film again for the first time after its debut in October 2014 with a sharper consciousness of what it takes to get good, stating, the struggle of how to perform getting good could not be performed with ketchup. It had to be performed with blood. For, in the very making and release of How She Got Good, Norris lost control of her image once again. (One of the many collaborators on the film took her content and made an unauthorized film from it.) The second video, Recovery, acknowledges this, adding another layer to Meka Jeans development, revealing an ever more murky terrain of authorship, patronage, collaboration and ownership. These are issues in the music, art and academic industries, in all of which Norris has been a subject, actor and agent. Laying bare the race to mythical perfection, her work throws into relief how exploitation is built into these systems, in particular for an African American woman. The fragmentation is somehow liberating and inviting, so that we can better reckon with Meka Jeans meta-self-improvement and the reverberations of the project at large.

Tameka Norris (b.1979, Guam) received her undergraduate degree at the University of California, Los Angeles before graduating with an MFA from Yale University School of Art in 2012. Through her work in performance, video, photography, and installation, Norris has always sought to originate and control the distribution of her own images, delving into themes of authorship and subjecthood. She has participated in the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (2009), the Fountainhead Residency (2012) and the Hermitage Artist Retreat (2012). Her group exhibitions include Radical Presence: Black Performance in Contemporary Art recently at the Walker Art Center and Gifted and Talented, Third Streaming Gallery, New York (2012). Norris debuted her feature length film/installation Meka Jean: How She Got Good at Prospect 3 in New Orleans (2014). Publications include articles in Art News, ArtForum, Art in America, and The New York Times. She will have a solo exhibition at the Cinema Gallerie in Brussels, Belgium later in 2015. Norris lives and works in New Orleans, LA and Berlin, Germany.



Meka Jean: Recovery Tameka Norris, 2015, Installation view.

Meka Jean: Recovery Tameka Norris, Conception Series, 2014, Recycled filler, found fabric, bedsheets, table cloth, acrylic paint, sequins, and mixed media.

Meka Jean: Recovery Tameka Norris, Meka Jean: How She Got Good, 2014, Video still, 80 minutes.

Meka Jean: Recovery Tameka Norris, Meka Jean: How She Got Good, 2014, Video still, 80 minutes.

Meka Jean: Recovery Tameka Norris, Meka Jean: How She Got Good, 2014, Video still, 80 minutes.

Meka Jean: Recovery Tameka Norris, 2015, Installation view.

Meka Jean: Recovery Tameka Norris, Ms. Rosie, 2014, Oil paint and acrylic paint on fabric, 60 x 68 in.