An Interview with Round 42 Artist Ayanna Jolivet Mccloud

by Victoria Laxalt Photos by Alex Barber


Website, blog, or other relevant links?

Please describe your installation at PRH for those who aren’t able to view it firsthand.

Here’s a few words from a brief review by John Pluecker which best describes the installation: “A steady pulsing sound … accompanies a text piece on borders, bridges, and the reverberations of violence for Score (How to Hold On to Chasms and Fill with Matter).”


As one of three Houstonian artists in this Round, how do you view the role of your work in the context of this international exhibition? And how is it perhaps uniquely Houstonian?

Like the other artists my work in this round frames blackness and brownness as it relates to diaspora and disjuncture. There also seems to be a lot of restraint in most of the aesthetics. So much of my work is minimal at least on the surface, but a look beyond reveals lots of layers. I think there is a quietness present in this round which resonates with me.

How was the conception of your piece at all influenced by the physical and/or cultural context of the shotgun house?

I was interested in the corporeality of the building so that when visitors walk in, the installation envelopes them and feels very internal. In writing the text and installing the installation I asked myself, “What does it feel to be inside of something?”


Please discuss your ongoing Instruction Manual series.

“Instruction Manual” is a combination of instructions and poetic reflections that are part of a larger text and archive. It was first written in 2011 and included as part of Book Club Book. This iteration was a kind of conversation piece in which I was speaking to myself and younger relatives. In 2014, it was presented in the Antena @ Blaffer exhibition, and I also performed a sound work. This version was in dialogue with my son, Zahir. The installation at PRH is the third iteration and most expansive. This manifestation was in dialogue and inspired by younger brother, Malcolm, who was killed last year.

While the work is an ongoing conversation piece, it is very open ended and the viewer doesn’t need to know who it is in dialogue with, but this provides another level of meaning and reading to the text.

For the future of “Instruction Manual” I’m hoping to spend time writing and submitting it for publication to various journals. I’d also like to work on an accompanying soundtrack or score that could be presented alongside or sit independently.

How does sound uniquely perform the intentions behind your work?

I often refer to sound in my art and text and sometimes feature elements of sound, as seen in this installation. I’m especially attracted to sound that is very sensorial, tactile, but usually very minimal. I’m still determining my relationship to sound and hoping to make more sound works in the future.


What do you want people to know about your work?

What’s next for you?

I will be leading a three-part workshop at PRH, “Writing in the Margins” on June 2nd, 10th, and 16th. With support from the Idea Fund, I am re-launching labotanica this year. I have text which will soon be featured in Not That But This blog. In 2016 I will be organizing and participating in an exhibition at the Art League featuring women and sound. After a pause over the past few years, I am working more actively in my studio at home developing some sparse drawings, text and quiet sounds.