Négritude, an experimental multi-disciplinary exhibition at Exit Art in NYC


Négritude, an exhibit opening on Saturday May 9th at the Exit Art gallery space in New York City (see link below), explores the visionary 20th century political and artistic movement of the same name—the inspiration of  Martinican poet, playwright, and politician Aimé Césaire in the 1930s—which flourished among Black intellectuals in post-World War I Paris and later spread to Africa, the United States and the Caribbean. There is an opening reception on May 9th from 7-10pm for the exhibit, which runs through July 11, 2009.

The exhibition, the joint work of Papo Colo, Tânia Cypriano, Rose Réjouis, Franklin Sirmans, and Greg Tate, seeks to define Négritude as an “archipelago”, or an extensive concept and movement, with many “islands”, or perspectives, representing African-American, African, Caribbean and South American cultures. Each of the participants was asked to curate their “island” by presenting a visual exhibition or series of public events that detail their own experience, interest, or study of Négritude.

Colo’s “island,” for example, uses live cotton and sugar plants to reference two of the earliest slave-grown commodities in the Americas, and will involve the participation of students in the process of creating his installation. Stacks of paper, printed with the images of Négritude icons such as Malcolm X, Pelé and President Barack Obama, will be included on the “island.” Cypriano, in turn, explores Afro-Brazilian culture through a ten-week screening series that touches on topics from capoeira to samba, Quilombos to religion, racism in soap operas to the globalization theories of philosopher Milton Santos. Réjouis argues that Négritude, as Aimé Césaire envisioned it, was a form of “dark play,” a notion she explores through the work of artists Wura-Natasha Ogunji and Haitian-American artist Vladimir Cybil Charlier-Juste, and performances by African-Hungarian music group Dallam-Dougou and poet Saul Williams. Tate presents a three-room “Black Mystery Anti-Panopticon,” envisioning Négritude as a “place” for mystery and funk, music and soul. A DJ shrine, created by Tate and the artists Xaviera Simmons and Arthur Jafa, will provide a site for weekly performances.

  For more on the exhibit go to http://www.exitart.org/site/pub/main/index.html

 The photo above is by renowned photographer Mario Cravo Neto, one of the artists featured in the exhibit. He is a resident of Bahia, Brazil and a follower of Candomblé, an Afro-Brazilian religion.

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