Crowd Control was on exhibit at Amos Eno Gallery September 9, 2022 through October 2, 2022..
Crowd Control, as defined by the Collins Dictionary is “the management of crowds at sporting events, demonstrations, etc., to prevent trouble.” Neff’s work explores and questions the institutions and methods we use as a society to control ourselves.
There is no shortage of ways that society is controlled. Police are called in to contain a group of people calling out systemic racism. Is it a protest or a riot? Free speech or sedition? For the first time ever, the Supreme Court is taking away established rights as opposed to enshrining new ones. The resulting division in our country is causing major unrest. How will we be surveilled? By drones up above us or by the period trackers on our phones in our pockets? Is it my body my choice when it comes to masking or my body my choice when it comes to my uterus?
A 6 ft by 6 ft charcoal drawing of the 5 most conservative Supreme Court justices imposes its glare at you from across the space when you first walk in. Projected drones observe you from the ceiling. On one long wall of the gallery, Neff’s mixed media drawing series Riot Police follows the same police through eight different situations where they may for may not be welcome. Crowd Control is a multi-channel video installation of Neff’s frame-by-frame animation in which those mixed media pieces come to life. Other paintings and mixed media pieces are also paired with related animations.
Crowd Control is Neff’s first foray into multi-channel videos and ambient projections. Her background is as a painter leaning towards highly expressionistic narrative, and most of the animations and videos take directly from hand-drawn or painted pieces. Animation was a natural outgrowth of her inclination to explore multiple ideas and stories at the same time.