Art and culture for George Floyd


As America burns amid protests over George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, the world of culture is also mobilized.
58. Venice Biennale. Arthur Jafa, The White Album, 2019. Photo Francesco Galli

“We are a white supremacy nation and we always have been. We are a white supremacy institution culture “, thus proclaimed one of the characters called into question by The White Album highly deserved Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale 2019. In this monumental and emblematic work, the author Arthur Jafa it highlighted how much the racial issue is not yet resolved in the United States (and not only) even if it was looking for a sort of mediation and pacification with the white counterpart. A film acclaimed by all, highly awarded, so much to give, as Teresa Macrì rightly noted in one of her intelligent articles of the time on Il Manifesto, Jafa the scepter of the examination on black culture in video art, even before Steve McQueen (conquered by the great cinema instead). Yet only a year after the biennial (it was part of this reflection too BLK NWS of Kahlil Joseph) America returns to burning with anger and outrage over a video showing an African American citizen, George Floyd being killed by Minneapolis police.


In the United States as in Italy, murals are beginning to emerge asking for justice for Floyd. In the Italian capital it is Harry Greb who in the United States of America, near the Olympic Village, asks Justice for George Floyd, replacing the head of the Statue of Liberty with the face of the killed African American. Hakim Bishara up hyperallergic reports a mural created in 12 hours right in Minneapolis between 38th street and Chicago Avenue South, by the artists Xena Goldman, Cadex Herrera and Greta McLain (with the help of Niko Alexander is Pablo Hernandez). “So many mixed emotions today … “, Goldman writes on Instagram. “Minneapolis is heavy with grief and anger and anxiety and horror, but at the same time I feel so honored or have worked today with a crew of kind and talented artists to honor the memory of #georgefloyd , so moved to have felt the community support all day long “. The site hyperallergic dedicated a really interesting special to what happened, however, carrying out a deep, shared and not at all self-absorbing reflection on a theme that has never been resolved and which in fact returns to periodically heat the United States (Michael Brown in 2014, Ferguson, Missouri, Eric Garner, 2014 , New York, Philando Castile, 2016, also in Minneapolis, Trayvon Martin, Florida, 2012, Freddie Gray, 2015, Baltimore, Tamir Rice, 12 years old, Ohio, 2014, but the list is still long …).


In the meantime, an open source document called is circulating on social media, on sites, on blogs Anti – Racism resource created by the actress Sarah Sophie Flicker and from Alyssa Klein: a long list of films, books, organizations, TV series, podcasts, videos, – from I am not your negro by Raoul Peck to Toni Morrison, so to speak – conceived as a vademecum for whites to do a job on themselves, obviously in an anti-racist perspective. The authors invite to circulate it and they do not miss a series of references to feminist movements, because as it declared Pragna Patel, English founder of the Suothall Black Sisters movement in an interview with L’Espresso in 2018: “far right, intolerance, gender discrimination are based on an idea of ​​inequality and exclusion that takes away voice and rights from men and women. In our globalized and interconnected world, the feminist community must transcend every border. Now more than ever we must recognize that an inclusive, intersectoral and global feminism is crucial to defeat all forms of fascism “. If the list does not lack readings and advice for TV series (to which perhaps the beauty would be added When they see us, directed by Ava DuVernay), there is not much reference to the works of art.


While many artists are already expressing themselves on their social pages, let’s try to add a proposal on art to the well-fed and commendable list of Flicker and Klein. In addition to the aforementioned Arthur Jafa and Kahlil Joseph there is the search for American artists Theaster Gates, Kara Walker, Mark Bradford, Carrie Mae Weems, Lorna Simpson, Kehinde Wiley, David Hammonds, Lyle Ashton Harris, Nari Ward, Kara Walker, Emma Amos, Gordon Parks, Kerry James Marshall and naturally Emory Douglas, without forgetting to mention all those who participated in the great Harlem Renaissence movement (between the 1920s and 1930s), and music (bebop, jazz, hip-hop …). They are not necessarily political artists, but their work tells (also) the story of black identity and great American culture. In Britain we can mention Chris Ofili is Yinka Shonibare (the Tate Modern presents here a very interesting survey on the theme from the collection (Read how voices from our Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Network respond to the artworks in our collection)). In Italy an excellent transdisciplinary work does it Johanne Affricot, culture curator and soul of Griot Magazine (here our interview) and of course the beautiful catalog created by the American Academy in Rome for the exhibition (2015) Black on white who questioned the theme of Afro-Italian identity by Peter Miller, Lyle Ashton Harris and Robert Storr. Because this is not just an American affair …

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