Today, excited I was when I entered a gallery whose name I shall not mention for propriety’s sake, what I saw there was so unbelievable to me that I kid you not, I was really speechless. My expectation in going to this gallery was such that there is an artist who is going to display for our view African Sensibility as influenced by European and American Slavery, but instead when I entered, what I saw was a completely bare gallery, holding a black totem pole with some sort of a sculpted gold leafed cowry shell. This is what greets you as you enter. Next you come up into a room where suspended above you like a chandelier of glass blown breast like shapes that in reality don’t look like breasts at all, but like milk bottles filled with black and white sand. On the floor is another cowry shell sculpted over the shape of a bustle skirt frame. The frame itself is surrounded with sage wrapped individually around the shape. Next you climb up stairs and you encounter at your first view, directly in front of you are five mannequin heads painted black with black noses, you know what I mean, the wide, flat noses that identify you as black, and glued on the heads were little, tiny paper roses in blue color as different hairstyles, each with no eyes, no personalities. If you quickly turn around because you are shocked by what you are looking at to see what you might see to relieve this shock, you see another bustle frame metal skirt with chunks of blue glass on top of it filling the whole room. Despite the fact that it takes up most of the room, the blank white walls staring at you unforgivingly with a question mark ask, “Where is the art? We are at the end of the exhibit.” In the corner of the same room is another cowry shell on top of a bustle much smaller, and as you quickly run out of this room because you are suffocated by an intense boredom, your eyes meet another chandelier. This time they are gold leafed black and white clay bananas, and this is definitely the coup de grace. At this point, you are running out of there before the puke that is about to escape you helps you to purchase an art to which you cannot stand, but I guarantee you that you’d be better off giving the expense to a total stranger who insults you to your face and spits on you also. This was my experience. This is what we should get from an “African-American” artist who is milking the fact literally that they are black?
“Oh, I’m a black artist.. What is something that I can do that is controversial. Oh, I’m going to talk about slavery! You know, anything that, you know, could find some object that could be related to the black experience somehow, paint it black, perhaps put some African necklaces on them, put them on a pole or some stand, and tell us that this is “Black Art, or this is the Black Experience or this is my interpretation of the Slave Experience of my ancestors in a protest to my experience now. All of this is what you find in the New York Experience of the so-called African Art Renaissance. You know, the new thing to do is to, you know, be a black artist, and then find some mannequins with some cornrows, or you show up with some corn rows, or some dreadlocks, and BAM! You are a bonified Black Artist making commentary on African Slavery. This is what we have. This is Art in the 21st Century of Nonsense. They want to tell us that there is some special secret to their message that we don’t get or that we don’t understand. That our eyes and feelings are incorrect, that there is some sort of Avant Garde perspective or concept in what is being presented to us. But no, we will not be fooled by that. Art is not just gluing things and painting things. Art is a thoughtful process instigated through an overwhelming power to reveal or understand. And the revelation and the understanding, when it comes, it comes without a doubt. And its presentation takes us precisely into the core of its meaning where we become recipients of its message or presence so that we become transported to its origin where its entity addresses us directly. But this art is nothing like this, and if you think that I am, you know, some sort of, like, an Artistic Dictatorship, I will simply tell you that you are wrong. Art moves. And if it doesn’t move, if people are just standing around talking around it, If no one is silent in observing it, if people are holding drinks so close to the art that they don’t even care if they bump into it, that art, I guarantee it, is not Art. Because when Art is observed and seen, we are made to express the sound “Ssshhhhhhh..” Our contemplation descends like analytic categories within our emotional receptivity and intellectual productivity to become co-joined into an arresting overture. I’m not saying that every piece of Art must be arresting, I am saying Art must give something. And when Art doesn’t give anything, well, it doesn’t deserve anything.