Is You Is or Is You Ain’t

Artist: Martine Syms
installation, miscellaneous | and SHE MAD: Laughing Gas, 2016 | 2016

Martine Syms explores pervasive archetypes and depictions of Black experience in America, often intervening directly in the ubiquitous platforms we use for communication and identity production. In the installation, the central monitor plays Syms’s Intro to Threat Modeling on loop. Narrated through email exchanges, screengrabs, and an avatar, the artist outlines “threat modeling”—a process of identifying risks to determine the most likely threat to one’s own security. People Who Aren’t Friends or Lovers or Exes is painted on the wall and hung with 35mm photographs—each a distinct work—blown up to the size of standard movie posters, placing seemingly intimate images in the public sphere. Moving between art world, the internet, and interior dialogue, Syms questions the notion of “safe spaces” and vulnerability in our increasingly technological world.


Whitney Biennial 2019 | 2019.05.17 - 2019.09.22 | Whitney Museum of American Art(New York City, NY, United States)