Inventing Male Archetypes that Privilege Softness and Introspection: Devan Shimoyama, Jane Ursula Harris, δημοσίευση Flash Art [16/11/2022]Marilena Pateraki
Looking back at the Whitney Museum of American Art’s landmark exhibition “Black Male: Representations of Masculinity in Contemporary American Art” (1994–95), Huey Copeland gravely observed: “The ‘black male’ is a perennial site of fear and projection, policing and pathology, contestation and coalition.” This was in 2014, the year Eric Garner was choked to death by a police officer in New York City, galvanizing the Black Lives Matter movement. No doubt Copeland was alluding to this in his comment, but it made me think of video and performance artist Ulysses Jenkins, whose pioneering explorations of Black masculinity in the 1960s and 1970s were not included in the Whitney exhibition. Jenkins, who honed in on the role of mass media, revealed not just how stereotypical depictions of Black men in popular culture were rooted in antebellum and Jim Crow–era caricatures, but how they were internalized — something he sought to resist. In the video Mass of Images (1978) he chants: “You’re just a mass of images you’ve gotten to know / from years and years of TV shows. / The hurting thing, the hidden pain / was written and bitten into your veins / I don’t and I won’t relate / and I think for some it’s too late!”
In many ways, I see Devan Shimoyama’s “Barbershop” series (2017–18), which similarly underscores and resists this internalization, as a continuation of Jenkins’ pursuits — albeit from the vantage of a twenty-first-century artist growing up Black and queer. But rather than embody the objectification endemic to ontological Blackness as Jenkins did, Shimoyama turns to the liberating potential of fantasy, inventing male archetypes that privilege softness, introspection, and joy instead. Known for psychedelic-hued portrait paintings that embellish flat areas of color with sequins, glitter, feathers, faux fur, photos, and rhinestones, the artist’s take on the homophobic barbershops of his youth — places he often felt shamed and unsafe — imbue these memories with the power of femme transcendence: “Creating that fiction of glamour, of decadence, of wealth,” he noted, “is something heavily ingrained in drag culture that always fascinates me, but it’s also heavily ingrained into Black culture.”
Η συνέχεια εδώ.