Dave McKenzie

Visual Artist
Born 1977, Kingston, Jamaica
Lives in Brooklyn, NY

Currently, I am teaching at two schools (as opposed to four)—having decided to use approximately half of the grant money to pay myself my usual 'salary'. The overwhelming benefit of this has been time and freedom in the studio. The time to just sit and think as well as pick up old ideas and new ideas alike to see if they are worth pursuing or expanding upon. I think this additional time and also the freedom to say no to every job has benefited the work.

Dave McKenzie, December 13, 2018


Dave McKenzie is a visual artist who uses video, performance, and text to explore how and why subjects engage-with and become-with one another. Through simple gestures and an exploration of popular culture, language, and politics, McKenzie's work reveals complex layers of meaning.

In 2004, while an artist-in-residence at The Studio Museum in Harlem, McKenzie engaged in a year-long project in which he periodically walked the streets of Harlem wearing a suit, a tie, and a William Jefferson Clinton mask. In 2007 he re-staged the performance, along with two other performances, under the title All Together Now for Performa 07, New York (2007).

McKenzie's performances include Darker Than the Moon, Smaller Than the Sun, at The Studio Museum in Harlem (2014) and All the King's Horses…None of His Men, at Third Streaming, New York (2013). Exhibitions of his work include Pants Full of Hope, Pockets Full of Adventure, or...Don't Call Me Cheesuz, Wien Lukatsch, Berlin, Germany (2015); 2014 Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2014); The Ungovernables: New Museum Triennial, New Museum, New York (2012); 30 Seconds Off an Inch, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York (2009); On Premises, Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects, Los Angeles (2009); and Black is, Black Ain't, The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago, Chicago (2008).

McKenzie is the recipient of a United States Artist Fellowship Award (2009) and was a fellow at the American Academy in Rome (2014-2015). He received a B.F.A. from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, and has taught and lectured at several colleges and universities throughout the United States. McKenzie teaches at Bard College in the Studio Arts department, and also serves as a faculty member at the School of Visual Arts.

Artist Statement

In an attempt to examine the structures of our desires and beliefs I create videos, installations, objects, and multiples from an interest in the inner workings of contemporary culture. My concerns as an artist are indistinguishable from the concerns I have as a being in the world. These concerns of daily life are extended to my practice and made primary over other considerations that may be considered merely formal or art historical. I am not an artist who is concerned with defining and sub-defining my practice, but I am someone who desperately wants to produce new situations that may become models for myself or others. I often try to do this through the most economical of means producing an economy of form that hopefully allows the work to feel familiar, and at the same time the slight formal differences allow for the generation of new areas for discussion and consideration. As always, I hope the work is not a simple reiteration of what is known, but that it can be understood to be an argument for why we think we know at all.

December 2017