"Taken as a trilogy, consent not to be a single being is a monumental accomplishment: a brilliant theoretical intervention that might be best described as a powerful case for blackness as a category of analysis."-Brent Hayes Edwards, author of Epistrophies: Jazz and the Literary ImaginationIn Black and Blur-the first volume in his sublime and compelling trilogy consent not to be a single being-Fred Moten engages in a capacious consideration of the place and force of blackness in African diaspora arts, politics, and life. In these interrelated essays, Moten attends to entanglement, the blurring of borders, and other practices that trouble notions of self-determination and sovereignty within political and aesthetic realms. Black and Blur is marked by unlikely juxtapositions: Althusser informs analyses of rappers Pras and Ol' Dirty Bastard; Shakespeare encounters Stokely Carmichael; thinkers like Kant, Adorno, and Jos Esteban Mu oz and artists and musicians including Thornton Dial and Cecil Taylor play off each other. Moten holds that blackness encompasses a range of social, aesthetic, and theoretical insurgencies that respond to a shared modernity founded upon the sociological catastrophe of the transatlantic slave trade and settler colonialism. In so doing, he unsettles normative ways of reading, hearing, and seeing, thereby reordering the senses to create new means of knowing.
The Search continues.... Black Kirby is a collaborative "entity" that is the creative doppelganger of artists/designers John Jennings and Stacey "Blackstar" Robinson. The manifestation of this avatar is an exhibition and catalog of primarily visual artworks-on-paper that celebrate the groundbreaking work of legendary comic creator Jack Kirby regarding his contributions to the pop culture landscape and his development of some of the conventions of the comics medium. Black Kirby also functions as a highly syncretic mytho-poetic framework by appropriating Jack Kirby's bold forms and revolutionary ideas combined with themes centered around AfroFuturism, social justice, Black history, media criticism, science fiction, magical realism, and the utilization of Hip Hop culture as a methodology for creating visual expression. This collection of work also focuses on the digital medium and how its inherent affordances offer much more flexibility in the expression of visual communication and what that means in its production and consumption in the public sphere. In a sense, Black Kirby appropriates the gallery as a conceptual "crossroads" to examine identity as a socialized concept and to show he commonalities between Black comics creators and Jewish comics creator and how they both utilize the medium of comics as space of resistance. The duo attempts to re-medicate "blackness" and other identity contexts as "sublime technologies" that produce experiences that sometime limit human progress and possibility.
"When Pope.L shakes his head he makes drawings that keep him from laugh-crying to death," writes Helen Molesworth of Skin Set Drawings, an ongoing series by multi-disciplinary artist William Pope.L (born 1955). Made with very humble materials, this extended corpus deals with the absurdities and perversities of intentional language, especially racist language and language associated with categorizing and naming color. "Black People Are Taut," "Brown People Are the Green Ray," "Blue People Are What We Do to Homosexuals," "Red People Are From Mars Green People Are From New Jersey," "Purple People Are Reason Bicarbonate," "Red People Are the Niggers of the Canyon" are some examples of this highly-charged series by the self-proclaimed "friendliest black artist in America." Black People Are Cropped offers a selection of drawings from 1997-2011, sketches, critical texts and the artist's own writing.
"The Chicago-born artist Charles White (1918-79) was celebrated during his lifetime for depictions of African-American men, women and children that acquired the name "images of dignity. White's draftsmanship, his direct address of the social and political concerns of his time, and his commitment to media that gave his art wide circulation established him as a major artist, and one with significant influence both on his contemporaries and on later generations.Beginning with White's early days as an artist in the Chicago of the 1930s and '40s, moving through his time spent developing his craft in New York in the late 1940s and '50s, and closing with his final decades as a revered figure in Los Angeles, Charles White: Black Pope explores the artist's practice and strategies through consideration of key works. It devotes particularly close examination to his late masterwork "Black Pope (Sandwich Board Man)," in the collection of The Museum of Modern Art. By creating visually compelling, ideologically complex works that engage audiences on many levels, White established himself as a key figure of his time, one whose work continues to resonate today."
Buick considers the institutions and people that supported Lewis's career-including Oberlin College, abolitionists in Boston, and American expatriates in Italy-and she explores how their agendas affected the way they perceived and described the artist. Analyzing four of Lewis's most popular sculptures, each created between 1866 and 1876, Buick discusses interpretations of Hiawatha in terms of the cultural impact of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's epic poem The Song of Hiawatha; Forever Free and Hagar in the Wilderness in light of art historians' assumptions that artworks created by African American artists necessarily reflect African American themes; and The Death of Cleopatra in relation to broader problems of reading art as a reflection of identity.
The story of African Americans in the visual arts has closely paralleled their social, political and economic aspirations over the last 400 years. From enslaved craftspersons to contemporary painters, printmakers and sculptors, African American artists have created a wealth of artistic expression that addresses common experiences, such as exclusion from dominant cultural institutions, and confronts questions of identity and community. This generously illustrated volume gathers more than 100 works of art in a variety of media by leading figures from the nineteenth century to the present--among them, Henry Ossawa Tanner, Jacob Lawrence, Romare Bearden, Lois Mailou Jones, Gordon Parks, Wifredo Lam, Kara Walker, Glenn Ligon and Kerry James Marshall--alongside many others who deserve to be better known, including artists from the African diaspora in South America and the Caribbean. Arranged thematically and featuring authoritative texts that provide historical and interpretive context, Common Wealth invites readers to share in a rich outpouring of art that meets shared challenges with individual creative responses.
In 1927, the Chicago Art Institute presented the first major museum exhibition of art by African Americans. Designed to demonstrate the artists' abilities and to promote racial equality, the exhibition also revealed the art world's anxieties about the participation of African Americans in the exclusive venue of art museums--places where blacks had historically been barred from visiting let alone exhibiting. Since then, America's major art museums have served as crucial locations for African Americans to protest against their exclusion and attest to their contributions in the visual arts. In Exhibiting Blackness, art historian Bridget R. Cooks analyzes the curatorial strategies, challenges, and critical receptions of the most significant museum exhibitions of African American art. Tracing two dominant methodologies used to exhibit art by African Americans--an ethnographic approach that focuses more on artists than their art, and a recovery narrative aimed at correcting past omissions--Cooks exposes the issues involved in exhibiting cultural difference that continue to challenge art history, historiography, and American museum exhibition practices. By further examining the unequal and often contested relationship between African American artists, curators, and visitors, she provides insight into the complex role of art museums and their accountability to the cultures they represent.