One of the organizing elements of my artistic practice is the concept of heroism. The hero serves as a narrative embodiment for an individual or community; it is both an iconic reflection of closely-held values and a representation of history and self-defined purpose. The heroic provides a unique way to access processes of myth-making and identity formation. Through my practice, I explore socio-historical conceptions of the heroic and its capacity to foment rhetorics of difference under divisive fictions and mask technologies of power behind myth.

Superheroic tales--stories of exceptional humanity, morality, and ability--like those found in comic books and memoirs (also movies, video games and self-help books) hold particular interest. While the images and stories themselves are important resources, so are the histories of the creators, media companies and audiences that produced them. Narratives constructed in these stories often have identifiable similarities with the communities that created them. 

Throughout my work there is an attempt at what historian Saidiya Hartman calls critical fabulation. Heroic surrogacy and fantasy embodiment become key frameworks in this effort. By including visualizations of heroic and superheroic narratives from popular media alongside references to the pleasures and pains of everyday life, I attempt to combine fictions, critically binding the personal, institutional, historical and popular fabulations that instruct the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves.


Philip Crawford

July 2018