The exhibition, entitled Difficult Love (Or What Scatters and Comes Back Together), considers how identities are formed in love and in resistance to the brutality of colonial world making.

Siloutted Female Figures

The Gallatin Galleries – located at 1 Washington Pl., New York, N.Y. – will feature Alex Callender: ​Difficult Love (Or What Scatters and Comes Back Together), Feb. 5–28. The exhibition, presented by the NYU Gallatin School of Individualized Study, is free and open to the public.

The opening reception with the artist will be Wednesday, Feb. 5, from 5-7 p.m.

The works in Calender's ​Difficult Love (Or What Scatters and Comes Back Together) explore a fictional Atlantic history, performed in scenes by women channeled from colonial paintings and archives. The exhibition considers how identities are formed in love and in resistance to the brutality of colonial world making. In this body of work, Alex Callender reimagines the lives of women who haunt the speculative landscapes of colonial Caribbean images, women who are often viewed as some extension of an exotic landscape, and formed through the European imagination of race, gender, and buying power. Uncovering written and material histories of the Black Atlantic, the artist tries to reimagine these women’s relationship to self, collective identities, power, and the (in)visible Black labor, embodied in colonial imagery, and how it relates to our present. Remixing the landscapes and subjectivities of colonial archives, she asks viewers to consider how ​economic narratives are masked to present hegemonic myths about who belongs and who does not in Western canonical imagery​.

Callender’s work uses the language of colonial kitsch to establish different social spaces of an invented colonial outpost, spaces in which the figures and the landscapes themselves appear in a continual state of being constructed and breaking away.

“I am interested in transformation, turning colonial imagery of economic speculation into speculative histories in which narratives of women’s lives and relationships can be reconfigured and speak to possibilities in our present,” she explains. “These speculative figures further evoke lineages that have been lost or interrupted, and are now being recovered by generations of black women, assembling a past from archives, oral histories, fractured story-telling, and imagination. We imagine our ancestors.”

Alex Callender’s studio practice incorporates painting, drawing and installation to explore intersections between myth, identity and material culture. Through the visual forms of historical narrative, repurposed archival imagery, and speculative fictions, she considers questions of race and borders, environmental instability, and hybridized landscapes. Callender has exhibited both nationally and internationally, and has held studio residencies with the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, The Drawing Center’s Open Session program, the Art in Embassies Program, The Vermont Studio Center, Urban Glass, the ​Tides Institute and Museum of Art,​ Alice Yard in Trinidad, and DRAWinternational and The BAU Institute in France. Callender is currently an Assistant Professor of Art at Smith College. Callender will be included in the 6t​h Ghetto Biennale in Haiti, which considers texts by Susan Buck-Morss and other scholars, to rethink concepts of democratic freedoms, as being intimately connected to the Haitian Revolution, and not just a product of European Liberalism. In spring 2020, Callender is creating a work for ​MayDay 2020, ​an exhibition in conjunction with Artspace, New Haven, and the Yale University archives, commemorating the 50t​h​ anniversary of the Black Panther Party protests at Yale.

The Gallatin Galleries are open Mondays to Fridays, 10 a.m.-7 p.m., and Saturdays from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.  (Media contact: Robert Polner, 212.998.2337). For more information, please visit

About NYU Gallatin:

NYU Gallatin is a liberal arts college within New York University whose BA and MA programs in individualized study enable students to develop an integrated, multidisciplinary program of study. With the help of faculty advisers, students design an educational path that combines a core curriculum of Gallatin courses and courses from across the schools of NYU, along with internships, independent studies, and tutorials. Through this innovative approach, Gallatin students tailor programs that fit their intellectual interests and professional goals.

About The Gallatin Galleries:

The Gallatin Galleries is an exhibition space that serves Gallatin students, alumni, faculty, and the broader community through shows that engage in the conversations taking place in the arts as well as in the academic, social, and political spheres. The Gallery works to expand the dialogue of ideas with the shows it hosts and invites students and faculty to see the space as a site of exploration of ideas, practices, and creative forms. The main Gallery is on the ground floor facing Washington Place. The Gallery extends to the communal spaces on the 4th, 5th and 6th floors. The Gallery and curator are also responsible for Gallatin’s permanent collection, which is installed throughout the building.

Press Contact

Robert Polner
Robert Polner
(212) 998-2337