Amber Jamilla Musser
Amber Jamilla Musser is Associate Professor of American Studies at George Washington University and the author of Sensational Flesh: Race, Power, and Masochism (NYU, 2014) and Sensual Excess: Queer Femininity and Brown Jouissance, which was published by NYU Press in November.
Now is the time to rethink the relationship between race and representation. This is not about simply increasing the number of minority artists, critics, and art consumers, but a question of re-imagining what representation could look like when we think expansively through the affective parameters of race.
The sound of James Baldwin’s voice greets visitors first. It originates from a Victrola record player, unceremoniously placed on the floor in the back of the first room, which plays a 1932 recording on vinyl of Baldwin singing “Take My Hand, Precious Lord.”
Mulvey shows us that the power of the gaze operates by producing or reifying distance between the one who watches, who is presumed to have power, and the object of the gaze, who is assumed to lack it.
This is not an exhibit that insists on presenting wealth as loud and spectacular. Rather, wealth is what permits contemplation.
PÒTOPRENS is a feast for the eyes. Occupying three floors at Pioneer Works in Brooklyn, the show brings together twenty-five contemporary artists working in different mediums in order to showcase Haitian art, much of which has not previously been displayed in the United States. This breadth is a deliberate curatorial choice; it reflects the city’s geography and the resultant microcosms of artistic communities, and is a confirmation of the vigor and aesthetic prowess of Haiti’s artists.
In its presentation of innocence that isn’t quite, Sable Elyse Smith makes criminality the absent center of the show; it haunts, but is not depicted.