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Frequency - Studio Museum in Harlem
dirrty harriet tubman

In the arts section of today's New York Times is a Roberta Smith review of Frequency, an ongoing exhibition at The Studio Museum. The title caption of the review reads, Where Issues of Black Identity Meet the Concerns of Every Artist. It's quite a bold statement and begs the reader to a challenge. After reading the article, I must admit, it's quite true. The descriptions of the artists and work in the exhibition, although addressing issues of Black identity in graduations from subtle to confrontational have the amazing beauty and intellectual universality to connect with all artists.

For example:

"Michael Queenland, whose "Untitled (Radical Since 1774), No. 2" consists of a long, subtly altered encyclopedia entry about the brilliant mathematician who became the Unabomber; the text has been beautifully rewritten by hand. The Unabomber is referred to only as X, and his tale is illustrated by images of Russell Crowe as the schizophrenic mathematician John Nash in "A Beautiful Mind." This splinters the narrative in several directions at once, toward Malcolm X and Hollywood glamorization, while illuminating the tragic waste involved in any form of marginalization and exclusion."

The process of this work has me excited. It demonstrates a smart inverweaving of history, culture/subculture and media. It guides us through obscure but reasonable links. Neither Ted Kacyznski (The Unambomber), Russell Crowe or John Nash were black. But through Queenland's masterful manipulations he is able to comment on the issues that relate directly to the Black experience and beyond.

The Studio Museum website encapsulates the exhibition as:

Commonly referred to or mistaken as Freestyle II, Frequency will feature art work by thirty five of the hottest emerging, black artists of 2005! Living and working in the United States and ranging in age from 25 to 42, their inspirations and influences range from hip hop videos and folktales, to baseball stars and Abstract Expressionism, to tattoo design and non-western aesthetics.

In painting, drawing, museum sculpture, photography, video, digital animation and new media, the will be abuzz with new works by new artists for Studio Museum audiences. The artists hail from cities around the country such as St. Louis, Memphis, Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago and Washington, D.C., and for many of them, Harlem is a totally new. Frequency is organized by Thelma Golden and Christine Y. Kim, and will be accompanied by a full-color catalogue. 

 Hank Willis Thomas - Liberation of T.O

If I'm in New York anytime before March 2006, I'm definitely going to check out this exhibition. -RST 

November 9, 2005 - March 12, 2006
at the Studio Museum in Harlem
144 West 125th Street, New York
(212) 864-4500.

Photo credits
1. Michael Paul Britto. Dirrrty Harriet Tubman. Video Still
2. Hank Willis Thomas. Liberation of T.O., 2003.
Lambda photograph.30 x 20 inches  Edition of 5
Jack Shainman Gallery

Further Reading
NY Times. Where Issues of Black Identity Meet the Concerns of Every Artist
Studio Museum in Harlem. Frequency

Posted by on November 19, 2005 10:22 AM |


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