Bryan Castro – An Incessant Modulation
January 26 – February 5
VCUarts and the Anderson are pleased to present An Incessant Modulation, an installation by VCUarts Painting + Printmaking alumni Bryan Castro (MFA, 2020). For An Incessant Modulation Castro draws on personal experiences of stigma to examine the structural and social discrimination surrounding stuttering. The unique repetitions and rhythms of stuttering, for which it is often maligned as a ‘dysfluency’ in spoken language, are materialized in Castro’s paintings as an exquisite visual poetry – one capable of leveraging a powerful counter-critique at the bodies of clinical literature and societal conventions—referenced and cited throughout these works—that have long defined stuttering as deficiency.
An Incessant Modulation is on view January 26–February 5th at the Anderson, Gallery F.
Castro will be on site to welcome visitors to his exhibition 12–6pm, Thursday, January 28th.
An Incessant Modulation shows a series of artworks where I repurpose chalkboards into text-based, double-sided paintings to memorize, interpret, and share the content of literature related to stuttering and disability. As a stutterer, I feel the need to build awareness about the social discrimination associated with stuttering, to challenge the stigma around stuttering, and to refute the notion of stuttering as a pathological defect. Through the paintings, an understanding of these subjects’ become more complicated through the materiality of language, the variation of texts, and the objecthood of the chalkboards. The illegibility of the written language through repetition, abstraction, and texture makes its meanings more visceral and affects the viewer through loud, energetic visual rhythms. The physicality of the chalkboards – raised from the floor on grey wooden stands and, in different instances, warped, bent, indented, or see-through –gives them a feeling of accessibility.
In the painting Untitled (Colonial America Used Speech Defects as a Means of Identifying Runaway Slaves and Indentured Servants), one of its mark-making strategies is a large-scale paintstick college-lined notebook page. The format or shape of the words on this painting is similar to its source. Long quotations are indented and separated from the opening and ending paragraph of the section “The Revolution and Early National Period,” from the paper The Development of Speech Pathology in America, 1890 – 1940 by Ann O’ Connell. I also used a marker on the aluminum frames to transcribe words from the Did I Stutter? Project , which is a community of stutterers advocating for stuttering pride and stuttering acceptance. The text on the frames creates unexpected reading orientations, leading the reader to tilt their head following the placement of the words. Like other paintings in the series, this work invokes the concept of failure by using the letter “F” in red.
In Untitled (See Stuttering as an Imminent Quality of Language Itself) , I refer to a text from Disability Rhetoric by Jay Timothy Dolmage, which examines the history of rhetoric through a disability studies lens. The title of this painting -along with the picture itself- references Christel Stalpaert’s interpretation of Gilles Deleuze’s concept of stuttering. I also employ the strategy of repetitive lines of information that emulate the form of a student’s punishment on a chalkboard. One of my objectives in these pictures is to make language stutter through the use of letter repetitions, letter prolongations, and quotations that show stuttering to be a procedure rooted in language and not just the materiality of speech. These paintings are about visualizing dysfluency to investigate my identity as a stutterer. I want the text to emotionally affect the audience because I want them to feel the same joy as I do in reading and looking at this information.
They also reference parts of the history of stuttering, not just an individual stutterer or speaker. I believe there is value in telling one’s story about one’s disability; however, I didn’t want to risk portraying stuttering as something to overcome in my body. Instead, I sought to represent it in different perspectives through various texts, my visual interpretation of them, and the materiality of the chalkboards.