From the Harlem Renaissance to the Black Arts Movement to Hip Hop, Black culture has a history of interdisciplinary arts movements. Today’s contribution to this tradition is magnified and expanded by the ease of connecting. Access to the entire world is always just a few clicks away. Today’s artistic movement emerges from the near ubiquity of global Hip Hop culture, and maintains many of Hip Hop’s aesthetic traits and political stances. Yet, in 2013, the cultural production of previous decades is filtered through a complex milieu of global traditions, nostalgia and futurist dreams, all in an age of intercontinental connectivity.
eMERGING is a curatorial experiment that places visual art and music side by side, and explores an array of artistic expressions that define this unique emerging merging of cultures and art forms. The exhibition features the works of visual artists and directors Kajahl Benes, Kudzanai Chiurai, Delphine Diallo, Modou Dieng, Hassan Hajjaj, dream hampton, Pieter Hugo, Hycide, Kahlil Joseph, Cinque Olajimi, Storyboard P, Ebony Patterson, and Hank Willis Thomas, and music by Blitz the Ambassador, Flying Lotus, Sue Jorge, Just a Band, Spoek Mathambo, THEESatisfaction, and others.
February 14 – May 26, 2013
Deanna Bowen, “The Klan Comes to Town” from This Hour Has Seven Minutes, CBC Studios, Toronto, October 24, 1965, Installation detail, AGYU, 2013
Deanna Bowen: Invisible Empires is a bold exhibition that presents a view on the Ku Klux Klan both during the American Civil Rights Movement era and its century-long history in Canada. Yes, in Canada. This radical new project stems from Toronto artist Deanna Bowen’s inquiry into her own ancestry of Black pioneers who emigrated from Oklahoma to northern Alberta in the early twentieth century, a crossing mirrored by the Klan themselves. Her autobiographical approach and archival investigations, though, deviate in this exhibition. Documents no longer serve the purpose of memorializing a traumatic past experience by means of an empathetic act of witnessing in the present, working through the traumatic archives of memory. Instead Bowen “crosses the line” into enemy territory by working with an “archive” of Klan material. “Working through” takes on a whole new dimension when the archives that supposedly are memorialized are those of the KKK, and when these documents and scenarios are re-enacted in the present for us to witness, and re-live. Laying it on the line, she in fact creates the KKK’s archive, memorializing it to another purpose and implicating us as spectators. In this endeavor, she, furthermore, “crosses the line” in what is expected or “permitted” of a Black artist by, in effect, reversing her area of concern from Black Studies to White Studies. This pioneering new work painfully breaks open the polarizing positions of racist ideologies embedded in the Klan’s history, as well as the discourses that evolve out of them by placing us squarely at the centre of the debate today: a line to be crossed or a line to be drawn?
The Art Gallery of York University
January 16 - March 17, 2013