new plan.

so, i'm thinking that a better challenge would be to try to do this in some more organized purposeful fashion...something that might push me to actually post on a regular basis...more than like 2 lines at a time =). so i think the goal is to strive to each week, discuss, reflect on a particular artist or architect, a particular piece or building, book, ideology etc. instead of depending on my inherent inspiration or initiative to reach beyond things i randomly encounter. that might actually push me to read/look more...or at least reflect more and thus push me to write more. "antyway"...i can't wait to devour my library pick for today: "parasite paradise: a manifesto for temporary architecture and flexible urbanism."

so as for the new plan...i think the first itch that's kind of begging me to be scratched is this whole "post-black" thing...that i've kinda heard people make reference to but kind of ignored. but i was scouring damali ayo's site...i never heard of her before i saw the link on my cousin's blog...and ran across either her "interview with herself"...which is actually an interesting idea, i might do that sometime, just as an exercise... or another interview where she was asked about whether or not she believes her work fits into the "post-black" paradigm...which she says she believes it does. her replies to the questions (which she states are not to be used without permission so i will respect that and not try to cut and paste verbatim)...spurred my reflection back to what i believe is the origin of the coining of this term by thelma golden, chief curator at studio museum in harlem in 2001-ish? around their show freestyle. i went back to look at some of the commentary around that show.

Golden in definining "post-black" says she recognizes racial identity as something to be simultaneously defied and kept alive; it's both a hollow social construction and a reality with an indispensable history. she also describes it as the marked ideological shift from the Black Arts movement of the late-’60s and ’70s, which in certain ways delineated political and social parameters and functions for what could be considered black art, to the more boundary-resistant work by black artists in the ’90s. In an article by Aïda Mashaka Croal, Golden explains the term as referring to artists "who are adamant about not being labeled as ‘black’ artists, though their work is steeped, in fact deeply interested, in redefining complex notions of blackness." The term, she explains, is a "defining principle in order not to have a defining principle."

This article states that in an interview with Lowery Sims, performance artist William Pope.L. explains the problems of canonical blackness that (Kehinde)Wiley’s work resists. He writes: "Blackness has always been a kind of rabbit’s hole—an uncertainty of someone else’s making. Black People are always the Alice with the question. For a long time, for many black folk, choosing to be black meant choosing the hole of disenfranchisement and thus one’s fate at the bottom of the political and ideological hierarchy. But embedded in this lack was an active opposition. Be that the Black church, black revolutionaries, black teacher, licorice patriots of all stripes and genders. Still, black people, no matter how strong the ideological chains that held them, always found a way to re-make themselves. Sometimes they made themselves into images of their makers. Sometimes they made themselves into anxious fantasies of what they thought black was supposed to be. Making is an important risk, not to be missed, even if it means making a mistake."

Making (and unmaking) and the dialogic are where Harris, Millett, Wiley, and the Studio Museum in Harlem seem to locate authenticity. The appeal of a "post-black" ideology is its rejection of essentialized "blackness," which is often about being the observed object as well as being put in the position of reacting against and within the parameters of limiting cultural hierarchies. One question is whether or not that position can ever be escaped. Identity and the self are, after all, social inventions—and impositions. It’s interesting that the impulse of Harris, Millett, and Wiley to articulate and critique their own ethno-aesthetic contexts—as well as the Studio Museum’s continuing mission to exhibit, collect, research, and interpret the work of artists defined as African-American and of African descent—suggests both the inescapability and the appeal of certain kinds of definitions and associations.

The thing that throws me off about all this is, i can't figure out where i stand on this. i think it definitely speaks to the frustration that many black people feel, i know i do. i am frustrated about essentially being the only black person in 99% of my interactions here in seattle through work, school or parent groups. there are sometimes that i try to ignore it and just well, "blend in" however it seems just by virtue of being that lone person...the very physical reality of it doesn't allow that. there is this annoying paranoia that, everything i say is then not just taken as what i'm saying, but what a black person is saying and along with that all of the preconceived notions about what a black person would think or say or act...something i both relish in and abhor. but if an artist gives themselves a label "post-black" does that mean that people don't see them as a "black artist"? what is "black art" anyway? interesting enough, many of these artists do work that it is deeply rooted in their experience as "black" people yet they understandably don't want to be solely defined by that. i wonder if regular old mundane society, gives a hoot about that title. i understand and appreciate the argument, b/c white artists are normally not called "white artists" or defined as doing work about their experience as "white" people though many of us recognize that as a truth...we as humans bring ourselves into whatever it is that we do. given this reality, is it instead, in a sense, a way of distinguishing from other black people/artists? if so, maybe this is where my dilemma comes in. i guess that gets back to all the bill cosby drama...and this idea of separating out...the whole talented tenth thing...which is bothersome. i believe that in general the post-black ideology is a gesture of empowerment...a kind of mixture of both pride and statement about getting beyond stereotypes and claiming a new, more real and complex reality of identity...which i think is good...and i am definitely moved by many of the artists that accept the post-black label, and though somehow, i'm hung up on the language and post-black not sounding...."right" i relate to other "post ________" ideas...like some post-feminist thought...but alas maybe my hang up with that is exactly the connundrum that golden describes about identity and titles... something to be both defied and upheld. its kind of like the marginalization thing to me...in words are power...and does using certain words affirm a structure that needs to be broken down not affirmed...

ok. enough of this jibber jabber. its too late and i'm not making sense to even myself. =).


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