Shaun Leonardo / Brooklyn, NY USA
Shaun Leonardo’s multidisciplinary work negotiates societal expectations of manhood, namely definitions surrounding black and brown masculinities, along with its notions of achievement, collective identity, and experience of failure. His performance practice is participatory in nature and invested in a process of embodiment, promoting the political potential of attention and discomfort as a means to disrupt meaning and shift perspective.
Leonardo is a Brooklyn-based artist from Queens, New York City. He received his MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute and is a current Smack Mellon artist-in-residence, as well as a recipient of support from Creative Capital and Guggenheim Social Practice. His work has been presented in galleries and institutions, nationally and internationally, and recently featured at The Guggenheim Museum, the High Line, Recess, and VOLTA NY.
My multidisciplinary work negotiates societal expectations of manhood, namely definitions surrounding black and brown masculinities, along with its notions of achievement, collective identity, and the experience of failure. My performances are invested in a process of embodiment. I invite the public to participate in physical reenactments locating current, tragic events (often times the deaths of young men of color at the hands of the police) within their bodies through gesture and voice.
The intent is to experiment with different forms of embodiment in order to explore the translation of trauma onto other bodies or onto another scene. Essentially I interrogate audience members’ memory of these tragedies in order to unpack the complexity of how one internalizes trauma, and in doing so, attempt to restore a sense of humanity to how these events are so often flattened in the media. The collaborative aspect of the work creates a space in which vulnerability and anger give way to a willingness and openness in having difficult conversation surrounding these issues.
I consciously (and unconsciously) sense that the time and space afforded to think, dream, and process here at SFAI, all while moving through the residency as a whole self – artist and father, will resonate with me and inspire work for much time to come.