Siemon Allen’s research based studio practice reflects a number of distinct yet interconnected processes where overlapping interests in aesthetics and politics lead to works loaded with historical significance and visual magnitude. Allen creates large-scale architectural displays that explore the construction of national identity while challenging the divisions between sculpture, painting and photography. He systematically accumulates mass-produced cultural artifacts including postal stamps, newspapers, old film stock, trading cards, comics and audio recordings which he then catalogues and repurposes. His approach is not unlike that of an archivist, each collected item bringing with it the narrative of its production, dissemination, and function. His ongoing web-based, visual archive of South African audio can be viewed here.
The South African born artist received his MFA from the Durban Institute of Technology in 1999 and was a founding member of the FLAT gallery, an artist’s initiative in Durban, South Africa. He has exhibited nationally and internationally at venues including the 2011 Venice Biennale; the Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin; the Whitney Museum, Artists Space, White Box and Momenta in New York City; The Renaissance Society in Chicago; The Project in Los Angeles; The Contemporary Art Museum in St. Louis; the Blaffer Art Museum in Houston; SCAD Museum of Art in Savannah, GA; the VMFA in Richmond, VA; the Krannert Art Museum in Champaign, IL; the Johannesburg Art Gallery, Iziko Slave Lodge and the 2nd Johannesburg Biennale in South Africa. He is represented by Goodman Gallery, South Africa.
Allen is the recipient of various awards including a Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship in 2013, and a VMFA Professional Fellowship in 2006. His work is in a number of collections including the Guggenheim Museum in New York; the Virginia Museum of Fine Art and Royall Collection in Richmond, VA; the Gordon Schachat Collection, the BHP Billiton and Standard Bank Collections in South Africa.