Did you spot Mark Bradford at Frieze LA?
The Californian artist picks a modern policing tool for his new Frieze LA print and raises money for ex-offenders
The American artist Mark Bradford comes from a modest, African-American background in Los Angeles. So you might suspect that he knows a thing or two about the rough end of policing. In 2018, he called one of his huge, collage-filled paintings I Heard You Got Arrested Today, and, as Sebastian Smee writes in our Mark Bradford book, “he has addressed racial violence in countless works, including Black Wall Street and Scorched Earth.”
However, in a new piece, available both as a print and on display as posters and billboards around LA this month, Bradford confronts current policing methods head on.
For the inaugural Frieze Los Angeles art fair (15-19 February), Bradford has created a limited-edition print called Life Size which features a police body camera. It’s a powerful work that draws on the artist’s ongoing preoccupations, both personal and political. “When I see a young black man murdered by the police on television, I’m trying to grapple with policy,” the artist tells Professor Anita Hill in our book, “I’m trying to grapple with it personally.”
And, just as Bradford has, in the past, worked with torn handbills and beauty shop supplies, so this body camera - which is rendered in 3D on the print - is a repurposed everyday article.
“I’m always interested in found objects and how context can give meaning,” says Bradford. “The police body camera carries with it such loaded and complex connotations. I also love it as an object—it’s both haunting and resonant.”
Yet Life Size isn’t just an aesthetic exercise; it will also help those caught on the wrong side of law enforcement. All proceeds from the sale of the edition – which is sold via his gallery Hauser & Wirth - will go directly to the Art for Justice Fund, which supports greater career opportunities for ex-offenders.
You can find out more about Bradford’s progressive, socially committed art in our Mark Bradford book.