On the occasion of High Line Channel’s screenings of artist Autumn Knight’s video work Complete Total Pleasure, Knight is joined in conversation by artist Robert Pruitt.
For the High Line, Knight presents Complete Total Pleasure (2019), a new video work that considers how anhedonia—the inability to experience and feel pleasure—has the potential to be wielded as a form of power and control through systemic isolation. Through the lens of various black figures, this visual essay uses gesture, choreography, geography, architecture, and text to address anhedonia reinforced by architectural intimidation and subsequent modes of resistance.
Autumn Knight creates performances and videos that examine and reframe oversimplified ideas about race, gender, history, and marginalized peoples. Much of her works centers around consumption, namely, the ways we take in and are taken in by one another. At once revolting and intriguing, Knight explores the tension between desire and disgust, and the ways in which those on the margins are often trapped between these polarities. Much of Knight’s recent work is inspired by bell hooks’ essay “Eating the Other: Desire and Resistance,” and hooks’ analysis of the ways we understand, control, realize, and resist power.
Autumn Knight is an interdisciplinary artist working in performance, installation, video, and text She has performed at various institutions including Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, Illinois (2017); the Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia (2018); Human Resources, Los Angeles, California (2019); and Akademie der Künste, Berlin, Germany (2018). Knight is the recipient of an Art Matters Grant (2018). Her work is held in the permanent collection of The Studio Museum in Harlem. Knight participated in the 2019 Whitney Biennial as a performance and video artist.
Robert A. Pruitt (b. 1975, Houston, Texas) lives and works in New York City. Pruitt works in a variety of materials, but his practice chiefly centers on rendering portraits of the human body, specifically the Black body. He projects a juxtaposing series of experiences and material references onto these bodies to denote a diverse and radical Black past, present, and future. Pruitt received a BA in studio art from Texas Southern University (2000) and an MFA from The University of Texas in Austin (2003) with a concentration in painting.
He has exhibited his work locally, nationally, and internationally, most notably at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston; the Dallas Museum of Art; the Bronx Museum of the Arts; the 2006 Whitney Biennial; and The Studio Museum of Harlem. He has participated in residencies such as Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture; ArtPace; Fabric Workshop and Museum; and the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts. He has received numerous awards including a Louis Comfort Tiffany Grant; a Joan Mitchell Artist Grant; an Artadia Award; a project grant from Creative Capital; and the William H. Johnson Prize.
Lead support for High Line Art comes from Amanda and Don Mullen. Major support for High Line Art is provided by Shelley Fox Aarons and Philip E. Aarons, The Brown Foundation, Inc. of Houston, and the Charina Endowment Fund. High Line Art is supported, in part, with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the New York City Council, under the leadership of Speaker Corey Johnson.