[Working Title] Young, Gifted and Black / Curated by Hank Willis Thomas / 2015 - Installation View
26 September - 11 November 2015
NINA CHANEL ABNEY | DERRICK ADAMS | SADIE BARNETTE | ZOE BUCKMAN | BETHANY COLLINS | NOLAN OSWALD DENNIS | OMAR VICTOR DIOP | TITUS KAPHAR | KILUANJI KIA HENDA | YASHUA KLOS | GERALD MACHONA | TOYIN OJIH ODUTOLA | EBONY G PATTERSON | ADAM PENDLETON | JODY PAULSEN | TABITA REZAIRE | JACOLBY SATTERWHITE | SHINIQUE SMITH
In keeping with our mission to investigate critical moments in the interconnected histories of global black life, Goodman Gallery is pleased to present To Be Young, Gifted, and Black the next edition of the ongoing series Working Title, an exhibition curated by one of our most thoughtful and provocative artists, Hank Willis Thomas.
Taking inspiration from Nina Simone’s iconic song To Be Young, Gifted, and Black (1969), written in memory of playwright Lorraine Hansberry, the author of Raisin in the Sun (1959) who died in 1964 at the age of 34, To Be Young, Gifted, and Black is about our moment, looking back at theirs. What lies between their Civil Rights and our #BlackLivesMatter? All over the world we cry out ever more fervently that our lives matter, even as evidence mounts supposedly to the contrary. However, we ourselves have never been in doubt of this truth, as Simone’s powerful words attest. She shares other great truths, singing that When you’re young, gifted, and black / Your soul’s intact, and, To be young, gifted, and black / Is where it’s at.
To Simone, these affirmations—these unique gifts—of soul and belonging, gained because of one’s race, age, and abilities, not in spite of, are fact. So too, to the artists in To Be Young, Gifted, and Black. Speaking both to the spirit of the song and of our times, they highlight the timeless matter-of-factness of Simone’s words, as well as a conscious contemporary need to hear, feel, and state her assertion boldly and loudly, unapologetically and with gusto.
Hank Willis Thomas is a conceptual artist working with themes related to identity, history and popular culture. He received his BFA from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and his MFA in photography, along with an MA in visual criticism, from California College of the Arts (CCA) in San Francisco.
Thomas has acted as a visiting professor at the MFA programs at Maryland Institute College of Art and has lectured at Yale University, Princeton University and the Musee du Quai Branly in Paris. His work has been featured in several publications including 25 under 25: Up-and-Coming American Photographers (CDS, 2003), as well as his monograph Pitch Blackness (Aperture, 2008). He received a new media fellowship through the Tribeca Film Institute and was a 2011 fellow at the W.E.B. DuBois Institute at Harvard University. He has exhibited in galleries and museums throughout the U.S. and abroad and his work is in numerous collections including the Whitney Museum of American Art, The Brooklyn Museum and Museum of Modern Art. His collaborative projects have been featured at the Sundance Film Festival and installed publicly at the Oakland International Airport.
Tabita Rezaire (b.1989, Paris, France) is a French-born Guyanese/Danish new media artist, intersectional preacher, health practitioner, tech-politics researcher and Kemetic/Kundalini Yoga teacher based in Guyana.
Rezaire’s practice explores decolonial healing through the politics of technology. Navigating architectures of power – online and offline – her works tackle the pervasive matrix of coloniality and its effects on identity, technology, sexuality, health and spirituality. Disseminating light, her digital healing activism offers substitute readings decentering occidental authority, hoping to assist in the ‘dismantling [of] our white-supremacist-patriarchal-cis-hetero-globalized world screen’, according to Rezaire.
Rezaire is also a founding member of NTU, half of the duo Malaxa, and mother of the energy house SENEB.
Artsy declared her among the 10 International Black artists to watch in 2016, and True Africa among the top 100 innovators and opinion makers on the continent in 2015. Rezaire has shown her work internationally at the Berlin Biennale, Tate Modern London, Museum of Modern Art Paris, MoCADA NY, The Broad LA, and Serpentine Gallery in London. Rezaire has presented her work on numerous panels, including Het Nieuwe Institut Rotterdam, Royal Academy The Hague, Kunsthalle Bern, National Gallery Harare, Cairotronica, Fakugezi Digital Art Africa Johannesburg. She has curated screenings at the Institute of Contemporary Art London, led technology and ‘booty politics’ workshops worldwide, conducted at yoga session at Museum of Modern Art in New York and has her writings published by Cambridge Scholars.
Rezaire holds a Bachelor in Economics (Paris) and a Master in Artist Moving Image from Central Saint Martins College (London).
Nolan Oswald Dennis is an interdisciplinary artist from Johannesburg, South Africa. His practice explores what he calls ‘a black consciousness of space’ : the material and metaphysical conditions of decolonization.
His work questions the politics of space and time through a system-specific, rather than site-specific approach. He is concerned with the hidden structures that pre-determine the limits of our social and political imagination. Through a language of diagrams, drawings and models he explores a hidden landscape of systematic and structural conditions that organise our political sub-terrain. This sub-space is framed by systems which transverse multiple realms (technical, spiritual economic, psychological, etc) and therefore Dennis’ work can be seen as an attempt to stitch these, sometime opposed, sometimes complimentary, systems together. To read technological systems alongside spiritual systems, to combine political fictions with science fiction.
He holds a degree in Architecture from the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg and a Masters of Science in the Art, Culture and Technology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Kiluanji Kia Henda (b. 1979 in Luanda, Angola) employs a surprising sense of humour in his work, which often hones in on themes of identity, politics, and perceptions of postcolonialism and modernism in Africa. Practicing in the fields of photography, video, and performance, Kia Henda has tied his multidisciplinary approach to a sharp sense of criticality. A profound springboard into this realm comes from growing up in a household of photography enthusiasts. Furthermore, his conceptual edge has been sharpened by immersing himself in music, avantgarde theatre, and collaborating with a collective of emerging artists in Luanda’s art scene. In complicity with historical legacy, Kia Henda realises the process of appropriation and manipulation of public spaces and structures, and the different representations that form part of collective memory, as a relevant complexion of his aesthetical construction.
His solo exhibitions have been held in galleries and institutions around the world. His work has featured on biennales in Venice, Dakar and São Paulo as well as major travelling exhibitions such as Making Africa: A Continent of Contemporary Design and The Divine Comedy: Heaven, Hell, Purgatory revisited by Contemporary African Artists.
Kia Henda currently lives and works between Luanda and Lisbon.
HANK WILLIS THOMAS is a conceptual artist working primarily with themes related to perspective, identity, commodity, media, and popular culture. His work has been exhibited throughout the United States and abroad including the International Center of Photography, New York; Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Spain; Musée du quai Branly, Paris; Hong Kong Arts Centre, Hong Kong, and the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Netherlands. Thomas’ work is included in numerous public collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Brooklyn Museum, New York; High Museum of Art, Atlanta, and National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. His collaborative projects include Question Bridge: Black Males, In Search Of The Truth (The Truth Booth), Writing on the Wall, and the artist-run initiative for art and civic engagement For Freedoms, which in 2017 was awarded the ICP Infinity Award for New Media and Online Platform. Thomas is also the recipient of the Gordon Parks Foundation Fellowship (2019), the Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship (2018), Art for Justice Grant (2018), AIMIA | AGO Photography Prize (2017), Soros Equality Fellowship (2017), and is a member of the New York City Public Design Commission. Thomas holds a B.F.A. from New York University (1998) and an M.A./M.F.A. from the California College of the Arts (2004). In 2017, he received honorary doctorates from the Maryland Institute of Art and the Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts.
Gerald Machona is a Zimbabwean born Visual artist with a Master’s Degree in Fine Art from Rhodes University and a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Cape Town, completed at the Michaelis School of fine art. Machona’s work has been included on several prominent international exhibitions, which include the South African Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale in Italy, All the World’s Futures and at the 20th Biennale of Sydney, The future is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed. Machona’s work has also appearedin exhibitions at the Brooklyn Museum in New York and at the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa in Cape Town.
Machona works with sculpture, performance, new media, photography and film. The most notable aspect of his work is his innovative use of currency—particularly decommissioned Zimbabwean dollars—as an aesthetic material. Machona’s current work engages with issues of migration, transnationalism, social interaction and xenophobia in Africa.
In 2013, Machona featured in Mail and Guardian’s 200 Young South African’s supplemental and was selected by Business Day and the Johannesburg Art Fair in 2011 as one of the top ten young African artists practicing in South Africa. In 2019 Machona was included on the group exhibition Still Here Tomorrow to High Five You Yesterday at Zeitz MOCAA in Cape Town.