Mitochondrial DNA is passed down from mother to offspring. In “Mitochondria,” the first comprehensive exhibition of Nona Faustine’s eponymous series, photographs of the artist; her sister, Channon; her daughter, Queen Ming; and her mother, Queen Elizabeth Simmons, document and explore the deep bonds between women of a family. Indeed, the ritual act of naming extends to the works on view themselves, many of which bear names of matrilineal aristocracy: Blue Queen (2015), Princess and the Queen (2011), The Queen and The Duchess (2011). In The Two Queens (2011), the Queens are framed by the dark arch of a domestic doorway as if subjects of a medieval altarpiece, both sheathed in royal reds and golds. The elder Queen, centered and seated, clasps the hand of the younger, who stands slightly to the side, as if the next to ascend the throne.
Arranged in an eclectic hang at Higher Pictures Generation, the photographs, encased in light-wood frames, meander up and down from a center line, sometimes symmetrical, sometimes aside, with a rhythm almost inborn. Like the DNA which is passed between generations, these photographs suggest that in the shared connections between women of a family, something is not only passed on, but reanimated.
Nona Faustine, Never Enough, 2010. Pigment print, 11 x 16 1/2 inches.