I want you to talk about your main and artistic modality, and what you see to be the symbolic and literal place you as an artist occupy, in both the western context and in your African context.
From my own personal experience, growing up, I did feel different and often out of place as a working class artistic mixed-race boy who wasn’t into football for example. Back then, I guess I wasn’t seen as traditionally masculine but I also didn’t want to ever show vulnerability in front of others either.
Malachi James in conversation with Christabel Johanson.
Charles Mingus, 2020
Around 1918, at the end of the First World War, an unprecedented cultural revival took place in Harlem. It made history and was known as the Harlem Renaissance. Writers, poets, artists, musicians, actors and theorists proudly showed what the New Negro was capable of. For the first time, African Americans felt valued and respected.
Much about that important period in black history has been published. For a long time, however, it was concealed that many of the Harlem Renaissance tastemakers were gay. It was thought that making that public would undermine the euphoria.
This essay by Rob Perrée is about this aspect of the Harlem Renaissance. Because of Gay Pride Month we re-publish this essay.
Richard Bruce Nugent, Dancing Figures, c. 1935, copyright Thomas Wirth
A writer clears his path through incessant questioning—seeking more than anything else an honest evaluation of his position and place in the subject’s affairs. Devoid of any irrelevancy and unpretentiousness, a piece of writing will consequently function as honest, and as intimate. Hence there is a sense in which “intimacy” means “clarity.”
The Nigerian writer Emmanuel Iduma on the art of writing.
Photo by Jacqueline Iannacone.
The African American artist Terry Adkins died in 2014. At 60. He was hardly known outside of the USA. Even at home his work did not get the attention it deserved. At the moment – until June 11 – Paula Cooper Gallery in New York presents work of Adkins. Finally. A good reason to re-publish the article Rob Perrée wrote about his work in 2018.
Native Son, 2006-2015
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June edition, 2022
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