|Checked out the new summer shows at Studio Harlem and this year's artist-in-residents stuck out like a chewing gum with nonstop flavor.|
Theoretically, afrofuturism is a pulpy concept beyond scope of tomorrow, blending visual art, literary writing, and science fiction in a consciously hot boiling pot with African diaspora seeds embedded in thought-provoking soil. Intellectual movement introduces gratifying brain stimulation to black consciousness; that kind of cerebral titillating stimulation serving as an erotically engaging current to those who know clandestine secrets and those in fetal yearning. The paradoxical triad of Mack, Barnett, and Halsey escort us into the golden cusp of afrofuturism via tersely maneuvered installations.
Mack's vivacious, high contrast palette emerges straight from Octavia Butler's obscure tenacity- sucking on systematic witchcraft and ironic symphonies playing orchestrated anarchy. Thick paint applique fabrics seem to mimic splattered blood speckles. Deliberate and intense like a confrontation, these vocal green and blue earth colored splotches deliver meaningful blows in a voracious rioting scream of acid tongued linguistics. Two medium sized urban styled jackets- one black bubbled and the other denim- feature fat sinister metal grommet holes like riddled bullet holes. On white hangers, they spin slow and creepily as if mirroring a barbaric Southern lynching. These ghastly unassuming 'bodies' tell cathartic stories that appear an almost violent commentary on the short life span of the African descendent or perhaps spark fueling debate about the politics behind used, voided cloth. In its sparkle, glimmered, textured surface, there is a mundane attitude, something cold and deceptive spitting blunt, metaphorical rhymes. He has carefully and precisely sewn together modern time with old history, logic with confusion.
Barnett is the pragmatic documentarian. Vivid, chromogenic color prints have a peculiar three-dimensional sensory reaching out and touching in soft, sedulous pleasure, harrowing leverage mirroring dilated pupils overwhelming eye sockets. On another wall, Barnett's collection of typewritten letters with faded stains and aged off white paper housed behind wooded frames and glass are highlighted by direct ceiling bulbs. They entail passionate correspondence from the heated 1970's. Angela Davis had been forced underground to escape the FBI who placed her on America's Most Wanted list, but these collected manifestos contain behind-the-scenes rebellious visionaries determined to keep Davis a free woman. Barnett has spoken strong, articulate language transcending boundaries of the norm. She lets past accounts bridge onto gaping passages of the now and of gritty obstacles burgeoning on horizon.
Unified Mack, Barnett, and Halsey are varied in approaches, but sustain a quiet, ingenuous dignity. Everything, Everyday is an arousing, sophisticated science promising intellectual lexicons that aren't insufferable complicated jargon.
|My traveling companion was Jonathan Chase an up and coming artist also in PAFA's illustrious MFA program. It was nice seeing what Studio Harlem's residents have to offer the world this year.|