ALL FINALISTS / ILANA HARRIS-BABOU

Ilana Harris-Babou

media
location
is an interdisciplinary artist who uses humor to critique aspirations associated with the American dream. Some of her projects delve into facets of pop culture, from online beauty tutorials to home renovation shows, to uncover uncomfortable truths about society and its values. Through video, sculpture, and installation, her work forces viewers to reflect on contemporary life from new angles and confront questions about history, race, and privilege.
Move Left
Move Right
Photo: Courtesy the artist
Photo: Courtesy the artist
Photo: Courtesy the artist
Photo: Courtesy the artist
Photo: Courtesy the artist
Photo: Courtesy the artist
Photo: Courtesy the artist
Photo: Courtesy the artist
Courtesy of the Museum of Arts and Design
Reparation Hardware
Runtime: 04:05

Harris-Babou makes videos that satirize aspirational television, such as cooking and home improvement shows. In Reparation Hardware, she tackles the latter by anachronistically envisioning a collection of home furnishings for recently freed Black American slaves. The title is a play on the name of a high-end furniture company. While humorous, this faux advertisement reflects on the lack of reparations for the Black community after liberation, and criticizes the blasé attitude many people have around this subject.

Courtesy the artist
Hammer 1, from "Reparation Hardware"
Material: Glazed ceramic
Dimension: 12 × 4 × 1 in. (30.5 × 10.2 × 2.5 cm)

In Reparation Hardware, Harris-Babou takes on the role of “Reparator,” using hammers like this one, molded from clay, to make reparations. She drives nails into wet clay, or hammers away at nails until the ceramic tools break. Instead of repairing, she is causing more damage, signifying the absence of real reparations for Black Americans to this day. The artist sees the American Dream as a ceramic hammer, sound in theory but ultimately dysfunctional.

Courtesy the artist
Still from Reparation Hardware
Material: HD Video
Dimension: TRT 00:04:05
Courtesy the artist
Assorted "Dysfunctional Ceramics"
Material: Glazed ceramic
Dimension: Dimensions variable

Harris-Babou’s objects tend to appear functional, but they rarely are. The artist enjoys introducing strangeness into familiar forms, an approach she has explored through her series of “Dysfunctional Ceramics.”

Courtesy the artist
Assorted "Dysfunctional Ceramics"
Material: Glazed ceramic
Dimension: Dimensions variable
Courtesy the artist
Purple Hammer
Material: Glazed ceramic
Dimension: 9 × 3 × 1 in. (29.9 × 7.6 × 2.5 cm)
Courtesy the artist
Orange Scissors
Material: Glazed ceramic
Dimension: 8 × 3 × 1 in. (20.3 × 7.6 × 2.5 cm)
Courtesy the artist
Assorted "Reparation Hardware"
Material: Glazed ceramic
Dimension: Dimensions variable

Harris-Babou’s objects tend to appear functional, but they rarely are. The artist enjoys introducing strangeness into familiar forms, an approach she has explored through her series of “Dysfunctional Ceramics.”

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Courtesy the Museum of Arts and Design
Studio Tour with Ilana Harris–Babou
Runtime: 05:58
Courtesy the artist