Derrick Adams is sly. His show The World According to Derrick: Performative Objects in Formation at the Boston Center for the Arts Mills Gallery is a showcase of the performance artist’s videos and sculptures. He scrutinizes and skewers such freighted subjects as race, class, sexuality, and American identity. Look at the image above, “In the House.” Yikes — it distills whatever unspoken fear there is out there about having a black man in the White House. Many of his works explicitly spell out society’s dark projections about black masculinity, and then foil them with sweetness, such as a wearable sculpture, “The Romantic,” which is a furry tuxedo jumper with a kente cloth cummerbund – and a ridiculously long phallus coiled around a bouquet. A lot of the work will make you laugh – because it’s absurd, and because it unpacks assumptions about race that we are so often afraid to talk about.
Also in this week’s galleries column, Linda Klein explores memory’s fallacies in a show of drawings and paintings at Bromfield Gallery. The drawings were made 20 years ago, and based on childhood memories. The paintings were made this year, and take off from the drawings, leading down surreal and dreamlike roads in which the artist’s bell-shaped grandmother takes off on jet-propelled legs. And printmakers from the Zea Mays studio out in Florence offer large-scale prints, also at Bromfield, including Carrie Scanga’s “Ballast,” pictured on the right. Scanga made blue drypoint prints on tracing paper, which she folded into bricks, and from those built this precarious and dainty pillar, which torques and leans against the wall. I’m told it has no internal armature, so no wonder this ballast sags and creeps. Makes you wonder about other ballasts in your life.