“One of the reasons I chose to work with language… is that each time a piece can be built anew. Language is less impositional—there is always an incomplete relationship to objects, rather than a complete, say, expressionist sort. As culture develops, the works change, or the culture itself begins to decay."—Lawrence Weiner
I saw Kahlil Joseph’s Double Consciousness/m.A.A.d. at MOCA last week.
I though it was weird that I felt the exact same “awe” that I felt after I 1st listened to Kendrick’s first album. Knowing that this is the visual representation of the album, that perfect sense of deja vu was still super eerie. It’s never that perfect. It was literally like I listened to the album for the first time twice.
I’ve been thinking about all the white people sitting behind me. Did they find it strange to see those beautiful images of “THOSE kinds of black people” in the MOCA as they walked out of the viewing area directly into the Sturtevant exhibit?
I know that it is weird of me to wonder what white people think about black art…..BUT it’s not in this instance. Because minutes after my sister and I sat down, the room began to fill behind me with white people (young, old, men, women, babies)..and usually blackness in front of this kind of audience makes me uncomfortble. I want black artists to get exposure, but I think all of us can admit that we prefer to view black art with black people in black spaces. Because it’s not FOR them, they can’t possibly understand it, or it all feels like some kind of weird zoo. Sometimes, it feels like I am the one out of place—like here I am at this white museum looking at black art and MY body and my feelings are the things that don’t belong. The art belongs, its been chosen, but black viewers are the guests here. But this didnt feel like any of that. Sitting in front of the dual screens, I felt like I was in a black space. Even though my sister and I were the only black people there, everyone else was the guest. And there was nothing for them to misunderstand, this art was not debatable. The visual AND Kendricks explicit lyrics were undeniably beautiful, they were undeniably art and they belonged in this museum—and it was all better then most of the shit IN this museum. Even the biggest racist knew that in their heart even if they could never admit it out loud. And I was so proud.
You know that weird anxiety I you sometimes get when trap music is playing and you’re the only black person in the room?—any possible reaction white people have to it is going to be unwelcome and annoying. This was the exact opposite. I walked back into the Sturtevant exhibit with these white folks in this stunned silence. It was so strange and exciting.