“A visual interpretation examining assimilation and reimaging male identities of possible futures through a black cultural lens.”
Future Afro Individualism at William Hill Gallery explores various perspectives on assimilation, representation and black male identities in postmodern culture.
Entering the gallery, one crosses the path of ‘Last Stop For Time Travelers.’ Three mythical beings whose facial attributes consist of a respirator mask surrounded by exotic bird feathers appear as alien subjects. Reflecting the remnants of consumerism, a video monitor framed in silver and gold artifacts are embedded with the chest cavity. The screen depicts a digitized black male figure expressing rage. Sexual body parts are grossly exaggerated as economic commodities within a technically advanced culture. These alien subjects become stereotypical beings designed to incite exoticism upon the white male imagination. Lyles creates a sculptural display of black male surviving under the influence of racism and sexual repression.
Lyles second project includes the photo-constructions of African-American men. The artist constructs a grid light box consisting of serial images of black male faces, juxtaposed with visual codes alluding to origin of identity formations. Lyles archival grid suggests changing and fluid nature of social identities with the context of mnemonic forms. Here image/memory systems collide as past and present interactions construct new meanings. Lyles archival approach to mnemonic process reassures as well as assault the expression of emerging identities.
Finally, Lyles presents a series of documentary photographs, which showcase African-American men sharing their perspectives on race and assimilation, in urban America. A collection of black and white portraits with text informs viewers about new social forms of black male identities. Individual subjects give first-hand accounts of racial profiling, class distinctions and ideological affirmations. A striking portrait of Ronald Clayton, whose persona resembles the social theorist, Cornel West comments on how assimilation have endangered black identities, thus manipulating the democratic concept that every one has equal value. Juxtaposed to Albert Johnson’s comment “ That my social position addresses basic every day survival needs. The concept of assimilation does not apply to me. It’s really not that important. From this collection, Lyles provides new insights into contemporary affirmations that ‘the lives of black men matter.’
The exhibition: Future Afro Individualism reveals and charts the problematic conditions of black male identities within American culture. Future Afro Individualism runs from September 5, 2015 to November 7, 2015
William Hill Gallery
Curitorial Advisor: Bill Hill
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