Operating with photography, video, and collage, Antonio McAfee’s work addresses the complexity of representation. Through appropriating and manipulating historical portraits, he engages in prescribed views of individuals and rework images to provide an alternate - more layered image and concept of the people depicted. His photographs oscillate between formal considerations and imaginary potential of the photographed sitter.
In his portraits, he dries glue on inkjet prints to enact a transfer process that partially removes ink from the surface, yet leaves ink on the dried glue peel to duplicate the individual. As a result, the portrait of the print is faded and fragmented with partial physical features remaining. The glue peel offspring are reused in collages to create fantastical interpretations of the bodies.
Throughout all McAfee’s work, the primary concern is to depict visual and physical transformation, in which the superficial read of others are abstracted to render it unstable. This is an attempt to encourage a layered and tangled relationship with whom and what is visually offered. One way he addresses prescribed assumptions is to use historical narratives and portraits. Through using appropriated sources, there is a basis for understanding particular ideas and stories that are passed down and sustained.
The source of the artist’s portraits is The Exhibition of American Negroes organized by W.E.B. Du Bois and Thomas Calloway for the 1900 Paris International Exposition. The exhibition was a photographic, economic, and legislative survey of middle-class blacks in Georgia.
Antonio McAfee is a photographer raised and based in Baltimore, MD. He received his BFA in Fine Art Photography from the Corcoran College of Art and Design. Shortly after, he earned his MFA in Photography from the University of Pennsylvania. In 2011, he received a Post-Graduate Diploma in Art in Arts and Culture Management from the University of the Witwatersrand (Johannesburg, South Africa). His fascination with history, portraiture, and what makes photographs drives his activities.
McAfee has been featured in BmoreArt Magazine, The Washington Post, Washington City Paper, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Mission on Tenth published by California Institute of Integrated Studies, and catalogues published by the University of Pennsylvania and Corcoran College of Art and Design. He participated in residencies at Can Serrat (Spain) and Vermont Studio Center. Antonio was awarded Civil Society Institute Fellowship, Faculty Research and Development Grant from the Corcoran College of Art and Design, Fulbright IIE Grant to Johannesburg, South Africa, Howard Silvertstein Photography Beijing, China Aboard Program, and Dedalus MFA Painting and Sculpture Fellowship. His work has been exhibited at the University of Maryland, College Park Stamp Gallery, George Washington University Gallery 102, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Civilian Art Projects, Flashpoint, Michael Steinberg Gallery, and Terrault Contemporary. Currently, Antonio is an instructor at Montgomery College.