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Amber Jamilla Musser

AMBER JAMILLA MUSSER is Associate professor of American Studies at George Washington University and the author of Sensational Flesh: Race, Power, and Masochism (NYU Press, 2014) and Sensual Excess: Queer Femininity and Brown Jouissance (NYU Press, 2018).

Architectures of Blue: Race, Representation, and Black and Brown Abstraction

Now is the time to rethink the relationship between race and representation. This is not about simply increasing the number of minority artists, critics, and art consumers, but a question of re-imagining what representation could look like when we think expansively through the affective parameters of race.

Toyin Ojih Odutola: Tell Me A Story, I Don’t Care If It’s True

Tell Me A Story, I Don’t Care If It’s True is comprised of portraits of Black people made from colored pencil, graphite, and ink. These are not images of capture—no one seems to acknowledge the viewers.

Toyin Ojih Odutola: When Legends Die

This is not an exhibit that insists on presenting wealth as loud and spectacular. Rather, wealth is what permits contemplation.

Rashid Johnson: Untitled Anxious Red Drawings

These are frantic times defined by uncertainty, emergency, and dread. Worse, there is seldom space for anything else. Johnson ’s drawings capture these heightened emotional states, but instead of producing catharsis, they keep viewers hanging in the air.

Doreen Garner:The Remains

In the back room of JTT, held by subtle spotlights, there is a gathering of flesh: it is arranged package-like so that each side folds over to almost meet in the center, revealing a tender interior. This is Doreen Garner’s meditation on Black gender, a theorization that moves us toward multiple valences of enfleshment.

Sonya Clark: Monumental Cloth, The Flag We Should Know

Sonya Clark illuminates the profound entanglement between our current moment and the Civil War by putting her body on the line.

PÒTOPRENS: The Urban Artists of Port-au-Prince

PÒTOPRENS is a feast for the eyes. Occupying three floors at Pioneer Works in Brooklyn, the show brings together twenty-five contemporary artists working in different mediums in order to showcase Haitian art, much of which has not previously been displayed in the United States. This breadth is a deliberate curatorial choice; it reflects the city’s geography and the resultant microcosms of artistic communities, and is a confirmation of the vigor and aesthetic prowess of Haiti’s artists.

God Made My Face: A Collective Portrait of James Baldwin

The sound of James Baldwin’s voice greets visitors first. It originates from a Victrola record player, unceremoniously placed on the floor in the back of the first room, which plays a 1932 recording on vinyl of Baldwin singing “Take My Hand, Precious Lord.”

Lorna Simpson: Darkening

The mood is somber and monumental. Blue ink washes over icebergs, enlarged strips of newsprint, and images of Black women.

Maureen Catbagan

Without many of its external markers, the phenomenology of time has been profoundly altered: we exist in a constant negotiation between realities and temporalities. In its excavation of memory—both personal and collective—Maureen Catbagan’s recent painting series plumbs the psychological space of this uncertainty.

TRACEY MOFFATT: Vigils and Travellers

Mulvey shows us that the power of the gaze operates by producing or reifying distance between the one who watches, who is presumed to have power, and the object of the gaze, who is assumed to lack it.

Sable Elyse Smith: BOLO: Be on (the) Lookout

In its presentation of innocence that isn’t quite, Sable Elyse Smith makes criminality the absent center of the show; it haunts, but is not depicted.

Jacob Lawrence: The Life of Toussaint L’Ouverture

What does history look like? Jacob Lawrence's series of fifteen prints on Toussaint L'Ouverture, displayed at DC Moore gallery, invites us to contemplate the complexities of a historiographic intervention within the context of aesthetics.

Jacolby Satterwhite

What we do see throughout Room for Living, however, are numerous forms of indebtedness—to the canon and, importantly, to Satterwhite’s mother. Elements of Patricia suffuse the exhibit. The LED texts that surround several sculptures are made from her words and handwriting, the drawings of bathtub, penises on wheels, and shoes are taken from her notebooks.

Yukultji Napangati

Yukultji Napangati paints timelines—yellow and orange dots connected by undulations that curve and spiral, submerging the viewer within the immensity of a vibrating sea. Time through lines, and yet outside of time.

Jennifer Packer: M. Heller

It's the green that really catches my eye; it forms the texture of the sitter's pants. As I keep looking, I notice other details—the couch cushions, the strong profile, the palm fronds in the background. The background is warm and diffuse, but rather than look at the viewer, the sitter is paying attention to something—a phone?—in his hands. This is a portrait of absorption; it is also one of intimacy. I'll be honest, the sitter reminds me of my brother.


The Brooklyn Rail

OCT 2020

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