Terry Adkins (1953-2014)
Synapse (2004)
Skillfully executed, “Synapse” is a video work in which Adkins slowly transforms a portrait of Beethoven between a familiar, brooding, Euro-white representation to an Afro-black appearance of the same demeanor. Here, he is playing on the little known likelihood of Beethoven’s Moorish ancestry. However this seems trivial in the face of the larger cultural legacy: the insidious nature of the distribution of hegemonic cultural information (western classical music) over mediated networks (like through the media and education) forming complex power dynamics between those who hold power and those who do not. It is Adkins’s fascination with these small bits of information that sometimes can have too much influence on the outcome of a work. This is where I think a bit of critical confrontation is warranted, when he reaches a pedagogical moment and lets the work rest there.