Displayed on the shores of this former shipping port, Black Atlantic is an exhibition inspired by the diaspora across the ocean that connects Africa with the Americas and Europe. Over the centuries, these transatlantic networks have led to complex hybrid cultures and identities like those of the five artists featured in Black Atlantic. Each commission suggests a unique creative approach towards crafting new identities and futures through the personal gestures of hand-made work, often in dialogue with the processes of large-scale fabrication. The artists have mined both global histories and personal experiences to create these compelling works, which are as inventive in form and materials as they are powerful in their themes.
Black Atlantic is co-curated by artist Hugh Hayden and Public Art Fund Adjunct Curator Daniel S. Palmer.
Dozie Kanu has created an ensemble of surreal objects that highlights the tensions between public and private aspects of the self, titled On Elbows. A vessel of black liquid that pulses at the rate of a human heartbeat and a chaise longue chair (typically associated with psychoanalysis) cast in concrete evoke self-reflection and also the murky depths of the individual and collective unconscious. The sofa’s “Texan Wire Wheels” rims (also referred to as “elbows” or “swangas”) reference the vibrant automobile “SLAB culture” of the artist’s native Houston. He describes the customization of cars within this tradition as a “free and playful fashioning of one’s own material property – gestures that I find deeply complex and layered given the relationship that Black Americans continue to navigate between ownership and agency.”
We pressed our bellies together and kicked our feet, we became something so alien that we no longer had natural predators, 2022.
We watched humankind evolve as we absorbed into the sea floor, the moon stared down at us and told us the Earth had a heavy heart, 2022.
We wondered if the angels had abandoned us, or if they simply changed shape without letting us know. Every night creatures vanished, every morning strangers would arrive, 2022.