Born in Los Angeles and raised by parents working in the entertainment industry, the artist, writer, and curator Aria Dean questions the structures of collective and individual subjectivities, with a focus on deconstructing and reconfiguring their relationship to networks of visibility, representation, and power. Often taking Blackness as a starting point and borrowing from the formal languages of minimalist sculpture and structural/materialist film (film that values the demystification of the filmmaking process as an attempt to showcase the “real event” of filming as closely as possible), Dean grapples with traditional histories and investigates the potential of other narratives attuned to material, political, and technological realities.
Dean’s Ironic Ionic Replica (2020) is a to-scale reproduction of the architect and critic Robert Venturi’s Ironic Column (1977). Venturi’s original, installed on the campus of Oberlin College (Dean’s alma mater), references and abstracts the neoclassical architecture of Oberlin’s Allen Memorial Art Museum. Thus Dean’s column is a replica of a simulacrum, a reproduction of an imitation. The column—or its “image,” rendered in space by Dean—finds itself no longer tied to its original context. Dean’s gesture of reproduction interrogates the ontology of an object, versioning a thing that is purely referential itself. Ironic Ionic Replica feels like its “original,” a phenomenologically uncanny instantiation, differing only in its surface treatment.
In Made in L.A. 2020: a version, the artist's work is present in two institutions, across Los Angeles. See Aria Dean's work on view at the Hammer.
Aria Dean was born in 1993 in Los Angeles. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in studio art at Oberlin College, Dean returned to Los Angeles, taking a position as a social media strategist for the Museum of Contemporary Art. In many respects Dean’s early engagement in the digital sphere of an institution prefigured the questions she posed around Blackness within the emergent internet culture. She has examined the generative and gratuitous workings of online cultural production, from how the circulation of memes maps onto Blackness to the tepid visibility politics of selfies. Many of these ideas find form in Dean’s writing for publications such as Real Life Magazine, Texte zur Kunst, e-flux, Artforum, and Art in America, to name a few. Her eventual appointment as assistant curator of net art and digital culture at Rhizome underscored the renewed interest in art made for the internet. The kernel in all this is Dean’s artistic practice, which serves as the impetus for her writing and curating, the two activities offering prescriptive signposts that order how she makes objects in the service of the abovementioned ideas. The way she grapples with these ideas in visual form becomes a material experiment in the repetitive structure within Black cultural forms that welcomes variability. Dean has shown her works in solo and group exhibitions at Metropolitan Art Centre (MAC), Belfast, Ireland (2019); Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond (2019); Het Hem, Amsterdam (2019); Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia (2019); Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo (2018); Schinkel Pavillon, Berlin (2018); and The Sunroom, Richmond, Virginia (2017), among others. She has presented performance works at Swiss Institute, New York (2018), and Centre d’Art Contemporain, Geneva (2019).