Arena for Contemporary African, African-American and Caribbean Art

CoDM Project Washington




CoDM 5×5 Interactive Public Art Project

Ceremonies of Dark Man Project on billboards in Washington DC.




About the project:

Designed to be interactive, the CoDM 5×5 billboards when scanned using the LAYAR Augmented Reality App reveal a video featuring more of the artists works, and the full poem featured on each the billboards performed by the well known Philadelphia actor, Frank X.

The CoDM 5×5 Public Art Project is a participatory social awareness campaign and we invite you to create and share new ceremonies at any our five interactive billboards located in Washington, DC.

You can connect and share the CoDM 5×5 experience using the social connections also revealed through LAYAR. The app can be downloaded by users for free.

#CoDM5x5 #5x5DCCoDMLarryCookLarrie Cook.

Washington, DC, has a rich visual arts culture; particularly within the African-American art community. Having spent a number of years active with various groups in the city, I am impressed with the quality of work produced and the sophistication of the audiences across cultural delineations.
Within recent years there has been a plea throughout the country to organize, encourage, educate and inspire young black men. Ceremonies of Dark Men (CoDM) is a 2014 5 x 5 Project, featuring large-scale photographs by five male artists complemented by poetic excerpts and placed in key areas around the city. Their works will, in part, address issues of black manhood in creative ways.

CoDMDonCampDon Camp.

Artists Donald E. Camp, Larry Cook, Isaac Diggs, Stan Squirewell and Michael Platt have devoted significant energies to creating photographic series on black males. Donald E. Camp’s principal directive for his “Dust Shaped Hearts” series was to document black men, counteracting negative media driven images. His dreamy, haunting photographs reveal unspoken longings, convictions and presence. Cook opts for the posed snap shot, capturing youth in their urban based glory with low riding jeans, tattooed bodies and hipster poses against stark white backgrounds or the decorative B-boy club backdrops.
Isaac Diggs is a photographer for whom the photograph remains a marker of specific encounters with reality as defined by architectural relationships, race and culture. His photographs affirm a connection to the communities and cultures he documents and humanity.

CoDMMichaelPlattMichael Platt.

Stan Squirewell’s staged studio photos of nude male subjects are painted blue/black and assume poses that bespeak of struggle and the desire to thrive. Also engaged in figurative work as well as portraits, Michael Platt, using digital technology, evokes various degrees of suspense. His figures and portraits are placed into spaces that allude to a spiritual and transcendent reality.
Through the eyes of men, this outdoor exhibit captures the essence of black men by giving glimpses of their complexities and intricate beauty. Using the camera’s lens and poetry, black men are presented, shedding light on their lives as beloved personages: husbands, sons, lovers, friends, artists, intellectuals and visionaries. Poetry is included because of the resurgence of poetics and the spoken word within the black community as means of protest, stating ontological truths and conveying information about relationships, familial, intrafamilial and attitudes toward the society at large.
Featured will be poems by Major Jackson, Kenneth Carroll, Fred Joiner, E. Ethelbert Miller and Afaa Michael Weaver from his unpublished manuscript, Boxing in Shadows, which, in part, along with the photography of Donald Camp inspired this project.

CoDMIsaacDiggsIsaac Diggs.

Major Jackson, an urbanite from Philadelphia, compares and contrasts his experiences of the inner city with his world travels, constructing metaphors that communicate the intricacy of his life’s journey. Miller’s sparse use of language captures moments of black men’s dreams and their lived experiences observed, while Joiner’s poetic voice is soothing like a gentle brook. Joiner tackles familial relationships and his past and present life in Anacostia. Kenneth Carroll’s work addresses the condition of black people and assesses their transgressions and triumphs. Dedicated to all the men in his life, Weaver’s collection of poems reveals the struggles, strife and triumphs of black men through the lens of his personal encounters with male family members, friends and acquaintances.

CoDAMSTANSquirewellAmstan Squirewell.

The format for Ceremonies of Dark Men involves mounting large-scale billboards/banners and photographic images in NoMa, NE; at Brookland Works, NE; and on the façade of the Franklin D. Reeves Center, 14th & U Street, NW; a doctor’s office on Martin Luther King Blvd. & Talbot Street, SE; and the Arena Stage Theatre in the SW. The artists’ photographs will be approximately 10’ x 30’ accompanied by stanza’s from select poems. The photographs will be made interactive by infusing an augmented reality layer. This layer will appear as a logo on the enlarged banners. Through a downloadable Layar app, the audience will have access to audio that provides background information on the artists and the project in general and recitations of the selected poems. A “call to action” icon will direct participants to interactive links and social media channels, such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram; thus creating virtual discourse.

A.M. Weaver