Amanda Ba

April 27, 2021
Tell us about your practice.
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.
Can you tell us about the bulldog in your work?
In The Companionship Species Manifesto, Haraway makes a case for reevaluating our relationship with all our worldly co-habitants, dogs being a significant example of the intimacy and historical coevolution that humans are capable of. The value of dogs’ lives does 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 fundamentally different animals 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, and 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 sapiens “savages”), and thinking of ourselves as truly no better than dogs is the first step in working towards a non-anthropocentric post-human future.
We’re curious about the thought that goes behind on how you approach your figures, can you tell us a bit about that?
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 a red light so that it is unclear what color they actually are.
What has been inspiring you lately?
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.
What’s next for you?
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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