Written and overseen by Meg Onli, our beloved BAS teammate, Black Visual Archive is a terrific new blog/website dedicated to contemporary black and post-black visual culture that launches this week. What’s more, the website is designed by another invaluable BAS colleague, Martine Syms, who as you all know also runs Golden Age. I love the crisp look of this site, and the range of subject matter, which promises to be pop-y, eclectic, smart yet fun, too. Right now, Black Visual Archive has a beautifully written review of Kerry James Marshallâ€™s exhibition catalog Mementos from his 1998 exhibition at the Renaissance Society in Chicago, which looks at the thematic and conceptual implications of the book’s design and content. Theyâ€™ve also posted on a performance of Nina Simoneâ€™s â€œFeelingsâ€ at the Montreau Jazz Festival and the Berry Brotherâ€™s Fascinationâ€™ Rythym.Â A brief excerpt from “Kerry James Marshall | Mementos” follows:
Historically, a souvenir painting is a literal interpretation of an event, however, instead of painting the march from Selma to Montgomery or a portrait of the Little Rock Nine, Marshallâ€™s â€œSouvenirâ€ paintings all depict the interior of a middle-class household. In Souvenir I, (1997) the home becomes sanctified with the souls of black folk who hover above a couch. Their visages, reproduced with screen-prints, which are a sharp contrast to Marshallâ€™s hand, are of deceased men, women and children with angel wings. In gold glitter the phrase â€œin memory ofâ€ is scrawled just below them. Is this our souvenir? The ability to ascend to a higher social status? Are these men and women our post-Movement saints? Powell notes, â€œone gets the sense that the â€˜Souvenirâ€™ paintings have just as much to do with process of memorializing as they do with the â€˜ideaâ€™ or â€˜themeâ€™ of the memorial: painting likeness and building effigies to the one-time mortals-but-now-gods; creating a functioning, commemorative alter in oneâ€™s home; and constructing a hierarchy of African-American sainthood.â€
There’s much more to come, so check out the site on a regular basis, or subscribe to the RSS feed for more.