Exhibit Measures Black Movement In Island Increments
A movement of black identity, inspired in part by the Harlem Renaissance, is reexamined in a unique art project in Hell's Kitchen. NY1's Stephanie Simon filed the following report.
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It's been said that no man is an island, but at Exit Art, artists and art curators are building allegorical islands. Not to show solitude, but the multitudes of the black political and artistic movement known as "Negritude."
Negritude was a political and literary movement that began in the 1930's with Black Caribbean and African intellectuals asserting their Black cultural identity. Exit Art Co-founder Jeanette Ingberman says the exhibit looks at how far the movement has come.
"It couldn't have been more perfect timing with the new presidency and Barack Obama and the whole first family, it just seemed more poignant that this show is happening now," said Ingberman.
The island motif speaks to Negritude's Caribbean origins but also the great expanse of the black experience and so the different islands represent South America, the Caribbean, Africa, Europe and the U.S. Exit Art Co-Founder Papo Colo created a star-shaped garden for the exhibit.
"It's installed with sugar cane and cottons which are the crops that brought slavery to the Americas in the beginning," said Colo.
Many of the installations are interactive including Colo's island, which asks visitors to take a photocopy of their favorite Negritude icon, fold it up into a paper airplane and send it to the island.
The rest of his island installation includes conga drums and more sugar.
"You see when you go there, there is sugar and then you write your name and the background is black. So you can be white, but when you write your name, some black appears. It's called 'In the mixture is the purity, or the purity is in the mixture'," said Colo.
Tania Cypriano curated an island which examines the Afro-Brazilian experience through film and photographs.
"The idea of bringing these photos was to bring also some of the water from Brazil, of the ocean, and I like the idea of showing these black bodies inside of this water where it now belongs to them," said Cypriano.
The exhibit is very thought provoking, but there will also be music, food and film screenings, making it a bit more of a day at the beach.
Opening Wednesday May 20, runs through July 25