Flowers in Temporary Hands
Jan 28-Jun 5, 2022
J.J. Adams, Booker (by the creek), 1959. Courtesy the artist's family archives
J.J. Adams’s Flowers In Temporary Hands explores the role that privilege and race play into an assemblage of any one identity. With four distinct iterations–an artist book, video performance, sound, and sculptural landscape–Flowers In Temporary Hands abstractly layers images as language, culling from a steeply personal and concealed post generational memory. Through a staircased soundscape, the audience is guided into a layered installation of images mounted on a labyrinthine chain-link fence, an echo of the artist’s most significant detainment as a teenage child. Flowers In Temporary Hands addresses legacy through photographs from Adams’s estranged grandfather’s archive, pages from Adams’s teenage journal while institutionalized, and newly produced poems that reflect on the artist’s past state of mind. All come together to reveal a striking but not uncommon portrait of a boy whose narrative of self has been mostly shaped by their single white mother.
A series of tender gestures paired with visceral critical inquiry, Flowers In Temporary Hands reminds us that identity, just like history, is both contingent and incomplete. This series of stories has been built from a myriad of people, places, and moments in time.
About the Book
J.J. Adams’s first publication, Flowers In Temporary Hands, pairs images with language to establish a symbolic universe that mixes personal memory, loss, and desire. Composed of three sections that address different periods in the artist’s life, Flowers in Temporary Hands acts as a timestamp to closure.
In The Toothpaste Diaries, Adams shares pages of their journal: a collection of drawings, collages, and writing created during a defining moment of teenage incarceration. These richly layered pieces are juxtaposed with works from the Gregory Adams Archive. This collection of black and white photographs taken by the artist’s estranged grandfather document his own collegial life, from the playing field to the classroom. Poignantly capturing two distinct moments in time, The Toothpaste Diaries and the Gregory Adams Archive are threaded together by Boys Like Us: Part One, a series of formatted and densely layered poems that reflect on J.J. Adams’s past and the construction of family vs. identity.