Created against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, the murder of George Floyd, and the worldwide rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, An Archeology of Silence meditates on the deaths of young Black people slain all over the world. It expands on his 2008 series, Down — a group of large-scale portraits of young Black men inspired by Hans Holbein the Younger’s The Dead Christ in the Tomb (1521–1522). Wiley investigates the iconography of death and sacrifice in Western art, tracing it across religious, mythological, and historical subjects. In An Archeology of Silence, the senseless deaths of men and women around the world are transformed into a powerful elegy of resistance. The resulting paintings of figures struck down, wounded, or dead, referencing iconic paintings of mythical heroes, martyrs, and saints, offering a haunting meditation on the legacies of colonialism and systemic racism.
For more information about the exhibition and upcoming talks, events, free admission days, and more, visit famsf.org
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