Though identity politics offered a necessary corrective in its insistence on acknowledging race, class, gender and sexual orientation within the cultural sphere,
it also often threatened to reduce an artist’s work to a statement on his or her own marginality, subsuming a discussion of the art itself into one exclusively concerned with identity. Race, sexuality, and gender are not irrelevant to Ligon’s work, nor is his status as a man who is gay and black, but this is hardly the work’s sole content. Instead, these elements often seem to serve as a means of probing the ways in which we organize the world. By disrupting the means of representation, whether pictorial or linguistic, Ligon calls attention to them, forcing us to consider how they operate.
“Cultural translation, like any other translation, is always involved with loss, the untranslatable, excess meanings, the indecipherable.
Given the cultural context the literature and photos I am using comes out of, the demands on those texts and images, I am interested in when they fail to communicate, the space that is opened up by not communicating.” – Glenn Ligon
-from Rachel Wetzler, The Limits of Text and Image: Glenn Ligon at the Whitney, Hyperallergic