A Pilgrimage to Noah Purifoy’s Desert Art Museum, 2016

Basel 2017
Gavin Brown's enterprise
silver gelatin prints
A pioneering force of California Assemblage, Noah Purifoy’s practice drew from the varied traditions of Dada, Surrealism, and African- American yard work. Born in 1917, Purifoy fled his native Alabama for Los Angeles upon returning from WWII. In the words of LaToya Ruby Frazier, ‘It struck me deeply, his sense of displacement. After the Watts riots of the mid-1960s, he collected burned materials that ended up in his art. Purifoy had a creative solution to dealing with injustice. Instead of evaporating or being silent, he took these things – pieces of wreckage – and turned them into works of art, a meditation on one’s life, one’s work, one’s history. This is the most powerful act.’ A Pilgrimage to Noah Purifoy’s Desert Art Museum was inspired by Frazier’s journey to Purifoy’s outdoor museum in the high desert of Joshua Tree. Her oeuvre sheds light on the debilitating effects of systemic racism and the aftermath of economic erosion in communities, including her own hometown, Braddock, Pennsylvania. Both Purifoy and Frazier are activists whose works transform the detritus around them into conceptually rich works that speak of the American experience and the power of art.