A selection of original articles & reviews by Alexandra Giniger.
So Black and Blue: Glenn Ligon’s Call and Response at Camden Arts Centre
The systematic oppression of people of color at the hands of America’s law enforcement echoed unrelentingly in my mind, even as I wandered through various art galleries during a recent visit to London. The bright lights and fast pace of Frieze week afforded a somewhat welcome distraction; but, I wondered, when all the art has been sold off the gallery walls, how much of what is consumed actually holds political weight and the promise of remembrance, of change? I needed dialogue; and I found it in an exhibition by Glenn Ligon.
My Country Has No Name: Interview with Toyin Ojih Odutola
AG: Toni Morrison happily accepts and encourages the label of “black woman writer” since, in her view, this is a vast and encompassing pool from which to draw creative inspiration. How do you feel when labeled as a Nigerian, or Nigerian-American artist, rather than simply a contemporary artist?
TO: I love that Toni Morrison quote about her being cast as a “black woman writer.” For her, the label was liberating, because from that standpoint anything was possible. I believe that as well. I think when something is viewed as concrete, even when people are describing or labeling you, you can choose where you want to go. I used to feel stifled by my being regarding as a “Nigerian-American Woman artist.” I thought it was a stamp that ruled me out of imagining anything more to explore.
Now, I don’t see it that way at all. The capabilities of imagination render all the walls put up nonexistent.
Smash the Looking Glass
Walk deeper into the gallery space, and we are thrilled to find that Thomas has dissolved the barrier between viewer and art, as she invites you to enter into her living room (via perfectly crafted installation) to meet her mother by way of the artist’s first documentary film, “HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO A BEAUTIFUL WOMAN.” Not only are we allowed to touch the art at 26th Street, but we are encouraged to sit with it, in it, and to be fully encompassed by the artist herself and the generations without whom she would not be. Anyone familiar with Thomas’ work knows of the subject/character that is Mama Bush; but in this film, the artist gives us the opportunity to enter into her family sphere and meet the woman behind the lens, the paint, and the rhinestones.