Here, we ask an artist to frame the essential details behind one of their latest works.
Bio: Kevin Brisco, Jr, age 31 and 11/12ths, Queens (@kbriscojr).
Title of work: Bring Me My Change (2022).
Where to see it: “Footsteps in the Dark” at Albertz Benda (515 West 26 St, New York) until Nov. 12.
Three words to describe it: Just go see… (it).
What was on your mind at the time: The piece was loosely inspired by a still from the Nina Menkes film Queen of Diamonds, in which young boys exchange something with an elderly woman in a Las Vegas doorway. The scene itself seemed inspired by Velázquez, but the action of the scene transported me to my childhood—back to memories of being handed cash by my mother to run some basic errand, always with the demand that I bring back the change. It reminded me of Eddie Murphy’s ice cream skit. It felt like a collapsing of experiences and influences, childhood via baroque painting.
An interesting feature that’s not immediately noticeable: The hands of the three children as the mother hands over the money. We have the central figure with hand outstretched demanding the money, the figure to our left with his hands folded patiently awaiting the exchange, and the figure to our right with their hands behind their back almost avoiding the exchange.
How it reflects your practice as a whole: For this show, the gallery and I put forth an agreement that the named figure in each portrait is entitled to 10 percent of any resale of their portrait in perpetuity, for the market life of the work. In group portraits, this figure is the parental figure. I myself hand over 10 percent of my artist share to this figure. This act is an aesthetic intervention, an artistic take on the concept of inheritance and generational wealth. Bring Me My Change is a direct depiction of how I see “inheritance” function in working-class families. The parent may give hard-earned money to complete a task (i.e. buy milk, get a car, go to college), but they need their change in return, be it physical coins, or the promise of becoming a doctor or lawyer on their investment.
One song that captures its essence: “Not Just Money” by Frank Ocean.