Austin Clark

This Black body of mine is the vehicle determining my life. I have inhabited this body for just over two decades, and yet I feel I still cannot understand it; I cannot grasp who I feel I am, nor the history embedded within me. It is many things: one being the physical mapping of my genes from a line of ancestry displaced in the Americas for somebody else’s check. The transatlantic slave trade ended centuries ago, yet I still wonder who this body belongs to. These questions of identity and ownership exceed far beyond the personal. Ultimately, they have prompted the creation of I’ve Never Really Enjoyed Fruit

This hyperreal scanograph is as much a form of documenting my body as it is a confrontation of the tons of blood shed by Black Americans. Look at me swing from this branch and notice how your own body responds to mine. I ask a simple question: How do we make our bodies our own? In both autonomy and collectivity, may our bodies mourn the deaths fueled by this nation’s racism.

Currently in his B.F.A. program at Indiana University, Austin Clark’s work investigates his identities as gay Black man in America. Mostly through self-portraiture, he undertakes the mission of self-discovery by analyzing American history and lived through experiences to visualize who he internalizes himself to be. Clark claims to be just as much on the outside as his viewer when responding to his images and believes that his work, much like his experiences, unfold his identity.