AMANDA BA

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Q: Tell us about your practice

A: I would say I'm primarily a painter, but also in the process of developing a video/performance practice (it's been slower than I'd like though, not being able to travel or have access to performance venues). Currently, my work draws upon the critical theory of Mel Chen and Donna Haraway, more specifically the concept of animacy tugged out of its linguistic home and applied to race and queer relations, and the nature of cultural relations in the world at large.

Q: Can you tell us about the feature of a bulldog in your work?

A: In The Companionship Species Manifesto, Haraway makes a case for re-evaluating our relationship with all our worldly co-habitants, dogs being a significant example of the intimacy and historical co-evolution that humans are capable of. The value of dogs' lives do not and should not depend on their intimacy with us, (i.e. if they are loved/accepted by us or if they make us feel loved). It is important to understand that most of our projections of human emotions/intentions upon them are false—they are a fundamentally different animal that we have found a way to cohabit with.

The American Bully is my breed of choice to paint because they exemplify this projection—many owners breed bullies to be uncannily muscular, feeding them protein powders and steroids, putting them onto workout routines as if they were their human bodybuilder companion. The name of the breed also carries certain connotations for me.

Marginalized communities have long been put down by being compared to animals (dogs, monkeys, rats, general pre-homo sapien "savages"), and thinking of ourselves as truly no better than dogs is the first step in working towards a non-anthropocentric post-human future. 

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Q: We're curious about the thought that goes behind how you approach your figures, can you tell us a bit about that?

A: For my most recent series, I am aiming to depict ambiguous relationships/power dynamics/degrees of anthropomorphism between the woman and dog figures. I use myself as a reference for the women, in part because I am my own most accessible model and in part, because any portrait that is not explicitly of another person ends up being, in one way or another, a self-portrait. I stage the figures under the glow of red light so that it is unclear what color they actually are.

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Q: What has been inspiring you lately?

A: A list in no particular order: hentai, the lighting in Wong Kar Wai movies, Mel Chen, Ocean Vuong, Lawrence Lek's Sinofuturism, the dogs in Hyde Park, Lisa Yuskavage, Apitchapong Weerasethakul, my partner's support.

Q: What's next for you?

A: I have two group shows here in London in May, and another one in Toronto this summer. In the fall I'm moving back to NYC with my dog—big apple I'm coming back, baby.

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COLLECTOR'S QUOTE

"I had the privilege of encountering Amanda’s work as her college classmate. She is the rare creative whose intellectual rigor is matched by her visionary style and exemplary technical skill. Her eye for color and capacity to build arresting compositions on a massive scale make her work electrifying. “Last Night I Crept Into A Cow” was the first painting I ever acquired—I was immediately taken by its intensity. Playful, provocative, and a little scary, a painting with this strong an affective kick is hard to come by, and Amanda is endowed with the exceptional talent to pull it off."

ADINA GLICKSTEIN

The Here and There Collective, LLC is a New York limited-liability company operating through a fiscal sponsorship with Players Philanthropy Fund, a Maryland charitable trust recognized by IRS as a tax-exempt public charity under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (Federal Tax ID: 27-6601178). Contributions to The Here and There Collective are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law.