On Saturday, Aljira, a Center for Contemporary Art kicked-off its spring exhibition of Leonardo Benzant: Afrosupernatural organized by Visiting Curator, Dexter Wimberly. Recognizing both his ties and disjunction from an ancestral past, Leonardo Benzant’s practice is driven by his connection to the trans African-Atlantic diaspora.
Considering the possibilities of genetic imprints, cultural identification, innate and intuitive beliefs and a conscious seeking of links that reveal continuities that are hidden or largely unsuspected by the mainstream, Benzant imagines himself as an Urban Shaman. His sculptures from the series Paraphernalia of the Urban Shaman M:5, are inspired by African power-objects, such as the minkisi and makutos of the Bakongo tribe, while also visually referencing the banding patterns of chromosomes, thus fusing the spiritual with the scientific.
Born in New York City to Dominican parents, Benzant is an emerging artist on the rise. His work includes painting, performance, sculpture, sound, and installation as he investigates deeply personal experiences of identity, ancestry, family, community and spirituality. Information is drawn from the uniquely shared history of code switching, double-consciousness and multiple narratives that people of African descent have inherited and are compelled to adopt as a survival strategy for daily life. Like this common experience his work straddles two worlds, embodying the dynamics of being both sacred and secular.