Art of This World: Sol’Sax + Maksaens Denis + Kara Walker


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Despite having a cold last week and recovering from it, which is why I have not posted in a week, I managed to go to three exhibitions — Sol’Sax’s Medicine from Heaven: How African American Culture Was Used to Cure the USA, Maksaens Denis’ Mutation X062 and Kara Walker’s A Subtlety. Below are slideshows from each event:

Sol’Sax‘s Medicine from Heaven: How African American Culture Was Used to Cure the USA at Skylight Gallery in Brooklyn

This exhibition reminded me a lot of Margaret Vendryes’ African Diva Project where traditional African masks are placed on the faces of legendary African-American figures symbolizing the sacredness of African-American and African Diasporic cultures.

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Maksaens Denis’ Mutation X062 at FiveMyles Gallery

Haitian artist, Maksaens Denis’s experimental instillation video and dance performance was not only a part of the month-long celebration of Haitian arts and culture, Selebrasyon!, but is also part of a series of Mutations that Denis has evolved over the past few years. Shown during the Surveillapocalypse exhibtion at FiveMyles Gallery, the digital video instillation is a surreal, dreamscape mixing together abstract images, human bodies and faces, Haitian dancers, Voudou veves, Haitian rara music, electronic music, and other Voudou-influenced music, like Nina Simone’s “Damballah” (written by Exuma), and Jacmel kanaval costumes, all blurring together and mutating into each other. While the video was showing two dancers, one with red and black wooden wings that clapped together when he moved his shoulders back, danced around the screens. The work premiered on Friday, but much of the video was only recorded two days before and with very little practice with all the pieces together, the video and performance combined base ideas and improvisation based on the space they were entering. In addition to the slideshow are two videos, one from the Mutation performance and another older one called “Masks.”

 

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Kara Walker’s A Subtlety at the Domino Sugar Factory

At first I was not too keen on seeing this one because of all the stories I heard about the disrespectful comments and pictures that people took, but I decided to go as part of the Kara Walker Experience: We Are Here event whose purpose was to create a safer space by having a majority people of color there. Wearing the “We are Here” sticker felt like a silent nod as I passed through the space and reflected on what was there. Below are photos and comments I made while I was there.

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