Magazine article Artforum International

"Fore": Studio Museum in Harlem

Magazine article Artforum International

"Fore": Studio Museum in Harlem

Article excerpt

Intermittently over the past twelve years, the Studio Museum in Harlem has given over its galleries to large group exhibitions that survey the practices of young black artists in the United States. The first, "Freestyle" (2001), is remembered today for its coinage of the then-provocative term post-black, a descriptor proposed by the show's curator, Thelma Golden, to encompass the heterogeneous sensibilities of African American artists of the-post-civil-rights generation. That show was followed in 2005-2006 by "Frequency," and then by Flow," in 2008. The latest installment, "Fore," organized by Lauren Haynes, Naima J. Keith, and Thomas J. Lax, very much extended the thrust of Golden's original presentation, offering a kaleidoscopic, resolutely nonthematic portrait of diverse practices, here represented by the work of twenty-nine artists.

Despite the exhibition's wide sweep with respect to both media and approach, there were distinctive threads that came into view. Most obviously, the show gave considerable attention to performance. Twice during the run, the museum hosted mini-performance festivals featuring work by artists Kevin Beasley, Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle, Narcissister, and Taisha Paggett, among others. (In one particularly bizarre entry, Jamal Cyrus, wearing white, deep-fried a tenor saxophone.) Additionally, the exhibition displayed a number of video pieces with performative actions at their core. These included Zachary Fabri's languid Forget me not, as my tether is clipped, 2012, in which the artist sits on a chair placed on Harlem sidewalks with balloons tied to his dreadlocks and proceeds to cut his own hair, and Nicole Miller's Daggering, 2012, displayed nearby, which juxtaposes a projected video of the artist rehearsing ballet with one showing hypersexual dancing at a Brooklyn club.

A through line to these performance works is the body in public space. But "public space" is not a homogeneous thing, and in Steffani jemison's two videos, she appears acutely aware of the ways in which the politics of a place come to be inflected differently over time. The Escaped Lunatic, 2010-11, and Maniac Chase, 2008-2009, feature shots of identically dressed men (and, in the latter, women) of color running one after the other through city streets and public parks. …

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