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Commissioned by Kandis Williams’ Cassandra Press for its Artist Zine Series, this work is the written component of Penance for the Hound of Gubbio. Through the parable of Saint Francis of Assisi’s Taming of the Wolf, the story of James Williams, a fugitive Slave who was commanded to be the object of a plantation dog’s training, and Jeffery Ryans, a Black man who suffered severe injuries after being attacked by a police K-9 in 2020, this work elaborates the sculptural work’s themes of coercion, discipline, and repetition as inextricable from Christian mytho-logics that yoke Blackness, threat, and animality.
Penance for the Hound of Gubbio is a comparative study that looks at the histories of dog training practices across police departments and plantations during chattel slavery through Judeo-Christian grammars of penance, discipline, and/or devotion (Saint Francis of Assisi’s Taming of the Wolf of Gubbio). It works through how Blackness’s symbolic imbrication with animality/the other-than-human is achieved through degrees of training and coercion or how anti-Blackness transforms Black flesh to be connatural with animal flesh through repetitious routines of violence and pleasure. The work argues that these racialised associations can be traced back to Christian parables/mythologies of the medieval period and is a literature whose afterlives can be located in the contemporary affective uses of police dogs on Black bodies and a general discourse of untameable incursions of the Other.
Cassandra Press was founded in 2016 by artist Kandis Williams as an independent publishing project. At its core, Cassandra Press examines tools of perception and racism, and their dominant role and expressions within current sociocultural systems. The press publishes lo-fi readers with texts by Black critical theorists, organises courses and produces artist zines and catalogues covering a broad range of topics that fuse questions of ethics, racial colonial violence, white supremacist delusion, and aesthetics.Published by Cassandra Press
150 x 210 mm