My artistic practice reclaims identity through performative photography, videography, and sound. My work explores the ideas of public versus private narratives, and the expansion of narrow, flattened definitions of indigenous art. It’s important to decolonize the spaces we are learning and researching in as artists and scholars, especially as I am a direct product of assimilation. Decolonization, in this case, can be seen by deconstructing westernized views on what indigenous art can look like, and dismantling the reductive ideas of what western ideas would expect. I am reclaiming what I still have left of my culture, and honoring these rituals in my work. My work can be described as raw, often juxtaposing beauty and repulsion. The work creates a visceral response in the audience, which allows viewers to confront their own viewpoints on women’s bodies and bodily functions. This relates to notions of what can be considered graphic. Natural bodily functions, illnesses, and trauma in women’s bodies can sometimes provoke feelings of disgust, fear, or panic - which then turns women into objects. Class, race, and gender all play a role in a person’s physical and mental wellbeing, but it is apparent that these aspects of identity do not provide an equal approach of understanding. Research in implicit bias studies have shown that no matter who the person is, they will have a hard time believing that a woman is in pain. So in turn, is this considered hysteria in women? Meaning, medical professionals would rather address what can be “fixed”; what can be disinfected, medicated, stitched up. It is not desirable to peer into ourselves to find the true, internal causes of illness, which is even more difficult for doctors to do with another human being.
Born and raised in Syracuse, New York, Cali M. Banks is an interdisciplinary artist, educator, and curator of Munsee Lenape and Scottish descent. She is currently based in Brooklyn, NY. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Art and Technology and Global Health Studies from Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania, and a Master of Fine Arts in Interdisciplinary Media Arts Practices at the University of Colorado Boulder, specializing in photography. In recent times, Banks has exhibited work at Every Woman Biennial London, RedLine Contemporary Art Center, Tiger Strikes Asteroid Philadelphia, Atlanta Film Festival, and Anthology Film Archives. She is also a featured artist in Issue #24, #26, and #38 of The Hand Magazine, and has been published on lenscratch.com. Read her interview with Lomography here.