Representing Stories that Black Femmes Hold in Their Bodies

Isis Davis-Marks, Hyperallergic, December 5, 2021

Ambrose Rhapsody Murray’s debut solo exhibition in New York at Fridman gallery, Within listening distance of the sea…, is about spiritual connection. Walking through this show is an otherworldly journey starting with “Fairy in a bottle” (2021), a 130-inch-high, vessel-shaped fabric collage that seems like a blue-and-white-tinged talisman that holds ancestral accounts and forgotten memories.


The show retells these bygone narratives with textiles and sequins. These pieces visually represent stories Black femmes hold in our bodies, those whispered tales of collective traditions and personal relationships. Many of the works are sourced from archival photographs of nude Black women and girls taken in the early 1900s, often traded as pornographic postcards. I’ve seen iterations of the pose before — in Ingres’ Grande OdalisqueGiorgione’s Sleeping Venus, and just about every female nude in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.