Artist and filmmaker Martine Syms works with film and video, custom software, photography, sculpture, collage, lecture-performance, multi-media installation and text. What may not be evident in viewing her work is that none of the many elements of the work are outsourced: she touches every part of a project, from programming to cinematography to editing to graphic design. She also founded Dominica, an imprint that publishes books and sells artist editions.

Challenging aesthetic codes is fundamental to her work, as is profound ethical questioning. Syms explores the ways structures of power control lives, inform behaviors, occupy minds, and shape how we see the world. She examines representations of blackness, how blackness is transmitted, and how technology perpetuates perceptions of race. She recombines images and text, creating new meaning from memories, myths, and histories. In doing so, she constructs an aesthetic of Blackness.

Circulation of imagery and methods of circulation are important to her. “Each form – an exhibition, a zine or book or website - has its own constituency,” she says. Hence, her multiple forms of communication, each one disseminating an idea then building a public around those ideas, sparking the potential for community and discourse.

“I make videos that explore, frequently through distortion and dramatization, the ways structures of power control our lives, inform our behaviors, occupy our minds, and shape how we see the world.”


photo: Steven Traylor