solo exhibition, 2017

︎AQNB, ““What turns you on?”: Shawné Michaelain Holloway talks power + submission in Sub Not Slave at Helsinki’s Sorbus” ︎︎︎


SUB NOT SLAVE is a multimedia installation that forces a viewer to look down. Through a creative re-staging of a sex club bathroom, the work heavy handedly presents an examination of power. Serving as a kind of interrogation booth, the work turns into a structure that simultaneously asks, “What turns you on?” and “What do you think is dirty?” The definition of this uncleanliness can fluctuate between its literal meaning to “forbidden,” “uncouth,” and even “lesser than.”

Upon entering the space, a viewer is invited to stand over a toilet with both feet inside a guideline. Looking down, a video plays; placed where one would typically urinate and defecate, it is meant to remind the viewer of their role as dominant and judgement-maker on bodies or voices inside of the screen. In the footage, self-shot pornography plays in a loop. Intertwined with a list of yes or no questions. Viewers are asked to respond to aloud.

The exhibition title SUB NOT SLAVE reinforces submission as an active gesture that is offered in exchange for something rather than something that is owed. By following the artist’s carefully arranged choreography of viewership, she engages audiences in an embodied act of play. From across the room, another work presents the artist sitting in her own bathroom stall, overseeing a circuitous objectification.