Exhibit 'Dress Up, Speak Up: Regalia and Resistance' at Cincinnati's 21c Demands to Be Seen

The figures within the 21c Museum Hotel’s Dress Up, Speak Up: Regalia and Resistance demand visibility as they lay out personal, social and political issues. The exhibition greets viewers when they first walk in to the hotel’s lobby, with works displayed on multiple floors. Each piece grapples with contemporary identity by using elements such as costuming, makeup, self-adornment and embellishment. By reaching backward into history, these figures often seem to reach forward in an act of reclamation to a past denied by the white gaze. Alice Gray Stites, chief curator and museum director, explained during a recent tour that this exhibit contains several references to history revealing experiences held by varying cultures that have been dominated or altogether erased by the legacy of colonialism. Dress Up, Speak Up: Regalia and Resistance runs through July 2020. More info at 21cmuseumhotels.com/cincinnati. And check out our full review of the exhibition.
Photos by Hailey Bollinger
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Kehinde Wiley's larger-than-life "Morpheus" hangs above the 21c's front desk. Wiley combines police mug shots, 18th and 19th century portraiture and the poses/gestures used by European Old Masters to influence his work. The man in "Morpheus" is found lounging by vibrant flowers in the likeness of the piece's namesake. Of his work, Wiley said that this: "Ultimately, what I'm doing is jacking history. I’m emptying out the original. It’s almost a type of drag in a way.”
Hailey Bollinger
Kehinde Wiley's larger-than-life "Morpheus" hangs above the 21c's front desk. Wiley combines police mug shots, 18th and 19th century portraiture and the poses/gestures used by European Old Masters to influence his work. The man in "Morpheus" is found lounging by vibrant flowers in the likeness of the piece's namesake. Of his work, Wiley said that this: "Ultimately, what I'm doing is jacking history. I’m emptying out the original. It’s almost a type of drag in a way.”
Surreal and intricately designed, Nick Cave's "Soundsuits" were a response to the Rodney King beatings in the 1990s. When looking at the suit — be it during a performance or in a gallery setting, in the case of 21c's exhibit — one does so without bias toward the person who inhabits it.
Hailey Bollinger
Surreal and intricately designed, Nick Cave's "Soundsuits" were a response to the Rodney King beatings in the 1990s. When looking at the suit — be it during a performance or in a gallery setting, in the case of 21c's exhibit — one does so without bias toward the person who inhabits it.
A detail shot of Nick Cave's "Soundsuit"
Hailey Bollinger
A detail shot of Nick Cave's "Soundsuit"
Bisa Butler's "Three Kings." Colorful and vibrant, Butler uses the traditional form of a quilt to weave historical photographs into a new context.
Hailey Bollinger
Bisa Butler's "Three Kings." Colorful and vibrant, Butler uses the traditional form of a quilt to weave historical photographs into a new context.
"The Anthropophagic Effect, Helmet no.1" by Jeffery Gibson. Though fragile, the helmet acts both as a form of self expression and self protection.
Hailey Bollinger
"The Anthropophagic Effect, Helmet no.1" by Jeffery Gibson. Though fragile, the helmet acts both as a form of self expression and self protection.
Works by Jeffrey Gibson, a Choctaw-Cheerokee painter and sculptor
Hailey Bollinger
Works by Jeffrey Gibson, a Choctaw-Cheerokee painter and sculptor
"Prism" by Jeffrey Gibson weaves together his Native American heritage and the influence of modern pop culture, specifically queer club culture.
Hailey Bollinger
"Prism" by Jeffrey Gibson weaves together his Native American heritage and the influence of modern pop culture, specifically queer club culture.
Detail shot of "Prisms"
Hailey Bollinger
Detail shot of "Prisms"
Athi-Patra Ruga's "Proposed Model of François Benga Monument" is an homage to François "Féral" Benga, an early 20th-century queer icon and Senegalese dancer who became a much sought out model during the Harlem Renaissance. Though now mostly forgotten, Benga's legacy resurfaces through Ruga's ornate sculpture.
Hailey Bollinger
Athi-Patra Ruga's "Proposed Model of François Benga Monument" is an homage to François "Féral" Benga, an early 20th-century queer icon and Senegalese dancer who became a much sought out model during the Harlem Renaissance. Though now mostly forgotten, Benga's legacy resurfaces through Ruga's ornate sculpture.
Made up of glittering jewels and flowers, Ruga's work rightly stands in 21c's lobby window.
Hailey Bollinger
Made up of glittering jewels and flowers, Ruga's work rightly stands in 21c's lobby window.