Arena for Contemporary African, African-American and Caribbean Art

Renee Cox: Revisiting Queen Nanny Series



Renee Cox: Revisiting the Queen Nanny Series
Curated by Rich Blint
January 22, 2016-April 14, 2016

Columbia School of the Arts

Russ Berrie Pavilion
1150 St. Nicholas Avenue (@168th Street)
Opening Reception: Thursday, January 22, 2016, 6pm-8pm
Regular Viewing Hours: Monday – Friday, 9am- 6pm



RENEE COX: Revisiting the Queen Nanny of the Maroons Series offers up selections of photographs from this striking series produced by Renée Cox in 2004 as an opportunity to reconsider the artist’s remarkable visual re-presentation of one of the most important and seemingly unlikely figures in the late 17th and early 18th century Americas. The spiritual and military leader of the Maroon outpost, Nanny Town, a once flourishing fugitive community that refused bondage and could trade and farm outside of the brutal confines of plantation life, Nanny is remembered in both the popular imagination and in scholarly circles as a committed freedom fighter and keen military strategist. She led numerous raids on plantations to free upwards of one thousand enslaved Africans, as well as to burn crops and destroy the equipment that fueled the massively profitable and deeply exploitative enterprise that was New World slavery. Given the Maroons’ strategic location, Nanny and her brothers were able to thwart, for nearly two decades, repeated attempts to destroy the town until a not wholly embraced treaty was signed with the British.


Nanny Warrior, 2004.

The images presented in this series reveal Cox’s obsession with self-fashioning and the significance and power of the female gaze in the context of the post-colonial and the still prevailing Enlightenment notions of what constitutes Western womanhood. At once self-possessed, forceful, and illusive, these photographs interrupt the authority of the camera and challenges the viewer to consider practices of seeing and consumption as Cox restages the community and life of this singular figure now heralded as a national hero.


Red Coat, 2004.


River Queen, 2004.

Renée Cox was born in 1960 in Colgate, Jamaica. She lives and works in New York. She has received an award from the New York Foundation for the Arts as well as an Aaron Matalon award at the National Gallery of Jamaica. She was also chosen to participate at the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Studies Program (1992-1993) and had several gallery and museum exhibitions, including the Museum of Art, New York (1993), the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1993), the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston (1995), the Alrdich Museum of Ridgefield (1996), the New Museum of Contemporary Art of New York (1999), the Venice Biennial in 1999, Smithsonian Accostia Museum and Center for African American History and Culture, Washington, DC (2000), the Brooklyn Museum (2001) and the Studio Harlem Museum, New York (2005 and 2012), among others.


March, 2004.

This exhibition is part of the series built environments, a curatorial initiative conceived by Columbia University’s School of the Arts Office of Community Outreach and Education to engage contemporary issues in fine art concerning aesthetics, value, difference, and public space. As a term, built environments functions as a framing and rhetorical device to capture the ambition and goal of every artist. The term is also presented as a way to think about the sustainability of exhibition contexts that extend beyond the confines of the white cube gallery or museum space. And most directly related to the fields of architecture and urban planning within which the concept emerged, built environments marks the project’s location in Northern Manhattan and its exploration of alternative fine art exhibition north of 96th Street.(text website Columbia)