Monday, June 27, 2005

Scene in the City: New Museum

Rhizome Artbase 101 @ The New Museum

The opening Wednesday night was lovely. The New Museum was packed and hot and sweaty, but we had fun watching people listen and watch and drink. As Keith and I pulled up to the museum I saw a woman's familiar face standing outside. A black woman in a classic black dress, with long locks and big, pretty eyes. But who could she be? Where did I know her from? Then it struck me; it was Damali Ayo -- the conceptual artist and our co-consirator in Internet work exploring race. Ayo is perhaps best known for her work Rent-a-Negro, but these days I've been thinking lots about her work Living Flag, a "DIY Reparations program" in which she panhandles for reparations and allows black passersby to take what they like. What gets me about this project is not that reparations could get done in this way. (And there's a fear that white Americans would answer "I already gave at the office!") What really gets me is that there is a real moment in which individual white people have to make a decision on the spot: Do I owe black America anything? And they do: yes or no, in the presence of a smiley black woman. And sometimes the black passersby who take their 15 cents. What would you do if you were passing by her. Would you give money? Would you take it? Anyway, Damali and we had emailed for the past few years and D, K, and I had even co-hosted a discussion about what was called "Net Blackness" for the Australian based global email discussion list empyre, but had never met in person. "Damali?" we said, "We're Mendi+Keith". There was smiling and hugging. "It's like meeting family!" she said.

Also seen were Michael Mandiberg (another co-conspirator in the world of conceptual Internet work on commerce, whom I hadn't seen since the Powering Up, Powering Down conference at UCSD), Rachel Greene (who is co-curator of the show with Lauren Cornell -- whom I couldn't find), Mark Tribe (who is starting a job at Brown -- his alma mater -- and enjoying fatherhood), and Anne Barlow (the curator of NM's Media Lounge).


Blogger Frank León Roberts said...

Mendi, sounds like this was hot! A very special thank-you for you and Keith making it out to the Nuyorican Poets Cafe on Saturday. Unfortunately, it wasnt until long after I had the pleasure of meeting you two that it dawned on me that you were THIS Mendi was our illustrious blog-o-sphere. Much, much love sistah.

5:48 AM, June 29, 2005  
Blogger Mendi O. said...

I know, I know. I didn't realize you were Basquiat in Brooklyn, either, until I went to your blog! In fact, I met your girl Alicia this summer but all I could say was: "A friend of yours told me I should meet you. His name is Basquiat . . ." :) Anyway, it was good to meet you.

10:07 AM, June 29, 2005  
Blogger Mendi O. said...

Oh, and the Black Pride reading was lovely. You should be proud.

10:08 AM, June 29, 2005  
Blogger Frank León Roberts said...

No doubt! Until the next time~let's stay in touch for a hot colloboration in the future (?)

5:36 AM, July 03, 2005  
Blogger Christina Springer said...

I've been meaning to thank you for this post about damali ayo. I went to both Living Flag and her Rent-A-Negro site and spent much time thinking, laughing, and snapping..."oh no she didn't do that!!!!" And I wa struck by her thoughtfulness and compassion. These wonderful blogs - how they spread information virus-like. I'm so thankful you keep yours. I'm gonna get some of those greeting cards of hers next time I'm stateside.

4:12 AM, July 05, 2005  
Blogger Luís Silva said...


just letting you know I started a blog called source code dedicated to debating issues connected to digital art, hactivism, tactical media, resistance, critical theory...

now featuring:

"an artist in the chat room", a text discussing Art_room, an online performance by Susana Mendes Silva

"confess yourself", a text discussing Confess, a web project by Stewart Smith

"travel to Java Island", a text discussing JAVA Island, a web project by Miguel Leal

feel free to join a debate or start a new post

Best wishes

Luís Silva

11:49 AM, July 23, 2005  
Blogger evie shockley said...


just wanted to add that ayo's "rent-a-negro" is now available as a book! i saw it in the bookstore yesterday. woo-hoo!!! the perfect gift for our technologically challenged friends and relatives. : ) spread the word --


2:21 PM, July 23, 2005  
Blogger tupeloduck said...

hey mendi!

it was fantastic to see you two as well! believe it or not i had just come from taping the bill o'reilly show and i was a bit shell shocked. plus that opening was packed! whew. we do feel like family to me, all part of some trouble making, crazy thinking, messing with people artist types. hope to run into you again soon!


12:39 AM, August 13, 2005  
Blogger tupeloduck said...

wait, why is "me, of course" my name...i don't remember filling that out ever...gee, i hope that didn't sound cocky :-)

12:41 AM, August 13, 2005  
Blogger Kilimanjaro: High and Lo said...

Damali, is it possible to view a clip of the o'reilly segment online?

2:53 AM, August 24, 2005  
Anonymous home equity line of credit said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

7:37 AM, November 29, 2005  

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