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Charles Dickson
Safe House

APRIL 1-30, 2018
Opening Reception: Sun, April 22, 2-5pm

Safe House uses real objects and representations to signify the female womb as a place of safety and

protection. The most prominent feature is a relatively large vagina, carved out of clear acrylic and standing “in your face”. It is placed in the front Plexiglas “wall” of the Proxy gallery, blocking the entrance and preventing us from ignoring it as we look further inside. The front of the gallery is framed by a computer “Motherboard,” expressing, according to Dickson, the mediation of the digital in our interaction with the real world.

The box of Proxy Gallery stands for the uterus, the “only safe and secure place for a person,” says Dickson. Inside the “uterus” is a fetus also carved out of colorless clear acrylic. The “walls” are covered in colorful photographs depicting body organs and internal tissue, while the “floor” is strewn with colorful candy and lollipops. An oval mirror placed behind the “fetus” allows us a view of its back, museum vitrine style, but also harkens to psychological theories of mirroring between mother and child, including the viewer as we peer inside. The absence of color in the vagina and fetus and the presence of color in the internal organs and candy, gives the installation a sweet and also sinister association, given the marked police violence that is especially experienced by black people who quite definitely do not feel safe in this society.


An autodidact artist and inventor, Dickson pays attention to dreams and premonitions. This piece came to him in a dream that not only visualized the work, but also told him “not to worry about it.” Unlike the rest of his practice, which consists of a lot of representations of whole bodies, here the installation isolates the womb and the mother’s vagina as a way of honoring the ancestor.

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