A Multimedia Polymath

A Multimedia Polymath

Across platforms, artist and designer Martine Syms makes use of publications, installations, and social media to convey her commentary on visual culture.

"I’m sometimes the designer, the writer, the filmmaker, the entrepreneur," says the L.A.-based polymath Martine Syms, 27. "Working across media towards a collapse of boundaries, I take on whatever role I need to get my ideas into the world." These ideas are profound explorations on where black identity, queer theory, and the Internet fit into the ever-evolving world of contemporary visual culture. 

 Upon graduating from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Syms launched Golden Age, a bookstore-cum-art space with a cult-like following and a publishing program for emerging artists. Relocating to Los Angeles in 2012, she founded Dominica Publishing, an independent imprint focused on black visual culture. Her art often takes on the form of film, poetic essay, graphic design, website, and increasingly, exhibitions and performances. "Misdirected Kiss," for example, a piece Syms staged at The Broad in January, combined spoken word with projected images that she had gathered from the Internet’s vast visual archives, with the resulting work questioning the representation of black women in popular culture. A Los Angeles native, Syms has also shown at the New Museum, MCA Chicago, the Gene Siskel Film Center, and the Storm King Arts Center, among many others. 

 How does she do it all? Stopping short of extreme sleep deprivation, Sym’s secret is surprisingly simple. "I'm very good at time management."

An installation view from Vertical Elevated Oblique, presented at Bridget Donahue Gallery in New
York in 2015. 

Courtesy of Martine Syms, Bridget Donahue, New York, and ©Marc Brems Tatti



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