A friend of mine printed these Ligon’s.
Artist, Glenn Ligon: My name is Glenn Ligon and you’re looking at The Runaways. The Runawayswas based on nineteenth-century advertisements in Southern newspapers for runaway slaves. Owners would often advertise asking people to return them. And these newspapers would have elaborate descriptions of what the slave looked like, and also the slave’s personality.
The lithographs use little icons of running slaves or kneeling slaves taken from nineteenth-century newspapers or from abolitionist tracks of the same period, combined with text descriptions that friends wrote describing me as if I’d gone missing and they were describing me to the police. I was interested in how people related to each other under the institution of slavery and the historical resonance between that moment and the moment that we live in now.
One of the interesting things I found was that the descriptions that friends gave of me in some eerie ways mimic descriptions I’ve read in these nineteenth-century newspapers. So it was this odd sort of self-awareness and self-vision set within the context of slavery. I would say, in general, that this series is about the power of language to reinterpret the visual image.
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