Monday, June 20, 2005

"Back to Black" in London

If you're in London between now and September, be sure to go by the Whitechapel and check out the exhibition "Back to Black -- Art, Cinema and the Racial Imaginary". The exhibition was curated by Petrine Archer-Straw, David A. Bailey, and Richard J Powell. Here's how it's described:

Back to Black - Art, Cinema and the Racial Imaginary presents a major survey of the Black Arts Movement in the US, Jamaica and Britain in the 1960s and 70s. Tracing its cultural impact in painting, sculpture, photography and drawing, it also focuses on the fashion, music and film that emerged over two decades. Symbols such as the raised fist, Afro and dreadlock hairstyles, African and Caribbean inspired clothing, media images of the inhabitants of the ghetto, and icons such as Angela Davis, Mohammed Ali and Bob Marley all infiltrated the art and popular culture of the period. Artists such as Ernie Barnes, Vanley Burke and Peter Simon were fascinated with inner city ghettos from Los Angeles to Kingston to Birmingham, while Faith Ringgold and Barkley L. Hendricks focused on fashion and the body as tools for social masquerade and invention. In Jamaica, Kapo and Osmond Watson conveyed images of a spiritual and idyllic Africanity, while Elizabeth Catlett, David Hammons and Gavin Jantjes were among many artists who combined political sentiment with a powerful aesthetic. Throughout the exhibition, 'Blaxploitation' and art films, as well as the sounds and imagery of soul, funk and reggae, testify to the multiple roles that blackness has played in mainstream popular culture."

Of course most interesting to me is the fact that Keith Obadike -- my most excellent partner in life and work -- has a piece in the show. Lost in Music is a music and video work for DVD that was commissioned by the Whitechapel Gallery of London for the exhibition. This piece creates a narrative exploring the diasporic musical dialogue of the 1960's and 70's by juxtaposing a series of album cover images and an original musical soundscape.


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