Constellations IX SE (work of art)
Key Ideas about this Work of Art
- This work of art features textured geometric shapes on a black background. Some of the pieces are gilded, or covered with gold. The gold shapes include dots, swirls, chevrons, and other more organic (less defined) forms.
- Viktor uses the colors black and gold symbolically in her work and combines alphabets and other forms of visual communication from ancient cultures, such as cuneiform writing from Mesopotamia, hieroglyphs from Egypt, and symbols used in Australian Indigenous art.
- This work of art shows how some African artists use ideas from the past to think about the future. Viktor invites viewers to think about both traditional and more modern color symbolism, and to consider what they associate with the colors black and gold.
Lina Iris Viktor is a Liberian British conceptual artist, painter, and performance artist. She lives and works in New York and in London. She takes a multidisciplinary approach to her work, incorporating materials and methods from both contemporary and ancient art forms, linking the present to the past. Her works combine painting, sculpture, performance, and photography.
Constellations IX SE is an offspring of Viktor’s limited series Constellations. Viktor says that she created Constellations to “recreate the dense blackness that holds light, and gold is the best material to show that, because it is its own light source.” Her work also challenges cultural assumptions about the colors black and gold and what they represent. Gold is often associated with light, wealth, status, success, spirituality, and ornamentation, while black is an adjective more often aligned with gloom, dismay, illness, hostility, and evil. According to Viktor, this coding of (or associations with) the color black has “long determined how we as black people … are spoken about and how we are seen.” Constellations invites viewers to wonder what they are thinking about (and why) when they align their beliefs and values with these types of definitions.
Resources for Teachers:
- Read an article about Viktor’s hand-gilded artworks.
- Read an interview with the artist.
- Learn more about how the country of Liberia was founded.
Resources for Students:
- Create an art project inspired by Viktor’s work.
- Learn some interesting facts about the history of Liberia.