The artist talk is a peculiar form of presentation, a sincere attempt to communicate something beyond the work of art. For most artists, the artwork itself is the language. Artists choose visual mediums because they most clearly convey a maker’s ideas. But, of course, we love to hear artists speak about their work, and for many artists, it is an honor when viewers seek to know more.
The talks below feature artists who sincerely produce work intended to stimulate change. New paradigms are born from viewing outmoded systems in fresh ways. In order to create an upgraded world, we begin by embodying it. These artists are inviting us into their invented worlds: universes where hair braiding is valued as high art, and the significance of human life is not based on socially constructed delineations such as gender and race. When we encounter these works, we have no option but to transform our thoughts, not only about subjects, objects, and people we may encounter each day but also about ourselves, the world around us, and creative output in general.
Some of us try not to be, try real hard to be, are embarrassed or ashamed to be, try to bleach it or lye about it; it will not leave willingly; it will haunt you in the rhythm of the subway train running across the track—black black black.
We know the answer, we invented the question, you are afraid to ask, we keep it too real, tell it like it is, real talk. Nikki tried to tell you [Giovanni, not Minaj] even our errors are correct; we birthed you, ungrateful offspring, and yeah we saw this coming and stay letting you (electric) slide.
We are your fetish, your magic charm; you save bits of us for later—that you may one day raise the roof or get down with your bad self but, alas, you will never catch up, you are perpetually played out.
We are shape shifters. You want to pin us down; you want to understand; you won’t. No matter how much of us you consume, we regenerate like Bébé’s Kids; we multiply and, damn, how we stay so fly?
Oh, how you long to touch it, fascinated by its resilience, its strength, its ability to withstand, its ability to stand tall, it is calling you by name, luring you in, it says no but means yes; you can’t help yourself, but you do anyway, always.
Shhhhhh, don’t let them see it; hide it behind them grins and lies: I’m fine, you’re fine, we’re fine, how was your weekend; don’t tell them about that time you cried Friday night ’til Monday morning or ate ’til you couldn’t move or didn’t have an appetite for three months and then your butt started to shrink so you made yourself start eating again; never tell, always smile.
We are the truth; we are the stories; we are the tellers; we are the makers; we are constantly consistently reclaiming our autonomy; you no longer own us though you may still profit from our ideas, our beauty, our genius, our truth is that we are limitless, and that is why we have always been so willing to share; sure, come live on this island; sure, we will take these shells; this land has no owner, no beginning, no middle, no end. Just truth.
#postracial or #postBlack
But we have a Black president; doesn’t that count for something? Doesn’t that mean racism is dead? Doesn’t that mean that all of these Black people being murdered, beaten, harassed, brought it upon themselves? I mean, what were they thinking—running, or talking back, or selling bootleg cigarettes, or buying Skittles wearing a hoodie, or going to an integrated pool party?
Remember that time they tried to erase us, banned our drumming, banned our Mamas like Oshun and Yemaya, banned our languages, banned our literacy; but, oh shit, look at us now, still here, still beating, still reading, still breathing, still mattering; can’t stop, won’t stop; ten thousand years from now, we’ll still be on top; Ntokaze been gave us our Black girl song; maybe now we can work on our happily ever after.