Bowdoin College Museum of Art

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Image of Cloudscape 38497


Lorna Simpson (Brooklyn, NY, 1960 - )



Creation Date



early 20th century

Object Type

audio-visual media

Creation Place

North America, United States

Medium and Support

single-channel video installation, black and white, sound, looped

Credit Line

Museum Purchase, Lloyd O. and Marjorie Strong Coulter Fund in partnership with the New Media Arts Consortium, a collaboration of the art museums at Bowdoin College, Brandeis University, Colby College, Middlebury College, Mount Holyoke College, and Skidmore College


This artwork may be under copyright. For further information, please consult the Museum’s Copyright Terms and Conditions.

Accession Number

Lorna Simpson often encourages viewers to derive meaning from the text and image presented in her work. Cloudscape, void of any text or spoken word, lets sound take center stage. In the film, a lone Black man (performed by artist and musician Terry Adkins) whistles a hymn or spiritual while being enveloped in a cloud of fog. The fog ultimately consumes him completely, obscuring him from view. The video then runs backward and forward on a continuous loop. The tune is a segment of a hymn that Simpson found in a nineteenth-century African American songbook. Through the film, Simpson collapses past and present through Adkins’s performance and plays quite literally with time through the reversal and looping of the video. Cloudscape uses the body as a site of memory, production, and cultural preservation, suggesting that the past cannot disappear completely or permanently.

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