In a wide-ranging conversation, Derek Fordjour and award-winning director Ava DuVernay approach Fordjour’s new painting Bookmaker’s Dozen (2021) as a springboard for meditations on process and labor, framing in painting and film, the historical patterns at play in the making and reception of art, and the Black body. The cinematic painting features twelve images of Black jockeys riding their horses; Fordjour has painted each image on its own canvas, and the entire group is framed in a single, unique frame so that each rider is both on his own and part of a collective. Together, he and DuVernay talk about how this Eadweard Muybridge-like composition captures the movement of time and the evolution of social structures alike, reflecting on their respective experiences working in different—but related—visual mediums.
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Bookmaker's Dozen, 2021
acrylic, charcoal, cardboard, and oil pastel on newspaper mounted on canvas
65 1/2 x 107 3/4 inches
(165.7 x 273.7 cm)
Derek Fordjour | Artist
Derek Fordjour (b. 1974, Memphis, Tennessee) has recently been the subject of solo exhibitions at the Pond Society, Shanghai (2021) and the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (2020). In 2018, commissions for the Whitney Museum of American Art Billboard Project and the Metropolitan Transit Authority Arts & Design program resulted in major public projects in New York. Recent group exhibitions include The Slipstream: Reflection, Resilience, and Resistance in the Art of Our Time, Brooklyn Museum, New York (2021); Present Generations: Creating the Scantland Collection of the Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio (2021); 100 Drawings from Now, The Drawing Center, New York (2020); and Plumb Line, the California African American Museum, Los Angeles (2019).
His work is in the permanent collections of institutions including the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Brooklyn Museum, New York; Dallas Museum of Art; Pérez Art Museum Miami; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; and The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York. Fordjour served as the 2020 Alex Katz Chair of Painting at The Cooper Union, New York, and serves on the faculty at the Yale University School of Art, New Haven, Connecticut as a core critic. Fordjour lives and works in New York.
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Ava DuVernay | Filmmaker and Founder, ARRAY
Academy Award nominee and Emmy, BAFTA and Peabody Award winner Ava DuVernay is a writer, director, producer and film distributor. Her feature directorial work includes the Oscar-winning civil rights drama Selma, the Oscar-nominated social justice documentary 13TH and the Disney children’s adventure A Wrinkle in Time, which made her the highest-grossing Black woman director in American box office history. In 2019, she created, wrote, produced and directed the Emmy Award-winning limited series When They See Us. She is currently in production on Naomi for The CW, the docuseries One Perfect Shot and DC Comics event series DMZ for HBO Max, Cherish the Day for OWN, Home Sweet Home for NBC, and the animated series Wings of Fire for Netflix, and in post-production on Colin In Black and White for Netflix and Queen Sugar for OWN.
Winner of the 2012 Sundance Best Director Prize for her independent film Middle of Nowhere, DuVernay amplifies the work of Black artists, people of color, and women of all kinds through her narrative change collective ARRAY, named one of Forbes Most Innovative Companies. She currently sits on the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Advisory Board of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, and the Board of the American Film Institute.
Bookmaker's Dozen (2021) photography by Daniel Greer
Video Editing by Carl Elsaesser
Videography by Tony Ung
The Horse in Motion by Eadweard Muybridge, animation of six automatic electro-photographs, 1878