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Body Language

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What would it look like if real life versions of the pins and markers used by Google maps crashed into the Earth and started trampling Midtown Memphis like they were the stars of a Japanese Kaiju movie? Would it look like gentrification? That's a thematic conceit of Charles Taylor's short video C-Town, currently on display in Rust Hall as part of the Memphis College of Art's "(dis)placed bodies" exhibit. Taylor is one of 16 participants in a multidisciplinary effort to consider how bodies are "(dis)placed by intersections between poverty, available jobs with living wages, decent housing, quality education, and justice in Memphis." The exhibit was created with MLK50 in mind and inspired by one of Martin Luther King's comment that, "No work is insignificant. All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence."

"(dis)placed bodies" is also multi-institutional, showcasing the work of artists and non-artists in graduate programs at MCA and University of Memphis. The work includes examples of animation, photography, sculpture, poetry, and assemblage.

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"(dis)placed bodies" gives viewers a lot of opportunities to compare and contrast work. Darcie Beeman Black's an MFA candidate specializing in metals, but working with plastic for "(dis)placed bodies". Her entry — a ragged, asymmetrical net of transparent chain — is literally difficult to see. Nearby, a collection of old newspaper and magazine articles printed on clear plastic sheets and layered by Leslee Bailey-Tarbett, doctoral student and literacy instructor at the University of Memphis, reveals uncomfortable truths about one Memphis neighborhood association's self-concept of preservation as activism.

As much a visual essay as an art exhibit, "(dis)placed bodies" does exactly what its organizers intended by exploring a world where people have been "shifted by structural economic, racial, sexual, gender inequalities against their will." For those who like to discuss those sorts of things, there's an artists reception scheduled January 26th from 6-8 p.m.

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