Kevin Beasley: A view of a landscape: a cotton gin motor

Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY

December 2018

Production | Exhibition Grant

Kevin Beasley (b. 1985, Lynchburg, VA) engages with the legacy of the American South through a new installation that centers on a cotton gin motor from Maplesville, Alabama. In operation from 1940 to 1973, the motor powered the gins that separated cotton seeds from fiber. Here, the New York-based artist uses it to generate sound as if it were a musical instrument, creating space for visual and aural contemplation. Through the use of customized microphones, soundproofing, and audio hardware, the installation divorces the physical motor from the noises it produces, enabling visitors to experience sight and sound as distinct. As an immersive experience, the work serves as a meditation on history, land, race, and labor. This is Beasley’s first solo exhibition at a New York museum, and his most ambitious work to date.

Kevin Beasley, Rebuilding of the cotton gin motor, 2016. Digital photograph. Courtesy the artist and Casey Kaplan, New York. Image courtesy Carlos Vela-Prado.