Casting herself or her mother in roles that include the host of a cooking show, a lifestyle influencer, and a reality TV Star, Ilana Harris-Babou’s multimedia practice interrogates the aspirational spaces of late capitalism and the intersections of race, class and labour therein. For Improvements, Harris-Babou presents a satirical single-channel video, Reparation Hardware. Riffing off the language of home improvement vloggers and the marketing videos of Restoration Hardware—an up-scale American furnishing company—Harris-Babou speaks of “unresolved pasts and untapped present”, offering a proposal for how reparations might be delivered to African-Americans. Through humor, the artist draws attention to the cliched tropes of nostalgia and authenticity in the language of advertising, and the effect this has in glossing over America’s history of slavery. Reparation Hardware serves as a commentary on the institution of slavery in the United States, from its historical past to its continuing effects in present day North America, and the ongoing fight for financial compensation for the descendants of slaves.
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