Sanford Biggers Takes Aim at Police Brutality at his MOCAD Detroit Show

October 4, 2016  |  Art, Culture

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As part of his excellent new exhibition, Subjective Cosmology, now on view at Detroit’s MOCAD, artist Sanford Biggers has created an epic site-specific work in reaction to recent events, including the killing of unarmed black civilians by the police and the allegations of sexual assault leveled against Bill Cosby. Measuring 30 feet in length & occupying over a quarter of the gallery space, the work is titled Laocoön after a famous Roman sculpture, Laocoön and His Sons, depicting a priest struck down by the gods Athena as he warned the Greeks about the Trojan horse. The piece uses the Fat Albert figure to allude to these victims of police violence while also representing the loss of faith in authority and the father figure. Bill Cosby created Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids in the 1970’s as a vehicle to explore the problems affecting primarily African-American and urban youth, and offer advice on how to avoid the pitfalls specific to their environment. When questioned about his motivations as an artist, Biggers told the Detroit Free Press, “I often say that my work doesn’t necessarily provide answers, but hopefully it provokes interesting and challenging questions. I want viewers to be inspired for sure. I want them to say, “You know, maybe I can look at this situation in a different way. Maybe there’s more information that I need before I make an opinion about this conversation about race” — if the work is about race. Or if it’s about appropriation or found objects or the materials themselves, then, “Oh, that’s an interesting way he’s even using materials.” (Read the full Freep interview here.)

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The original Laocoön and His Sons that inspired Biggers’ piece

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