Marvelous Freedom/Vigilance of Desire, Revisited
I revisited the world of Afrosurrealism today at the Arcade Gallery of Columbia College Chicago through an exhibition curated by Alexandria Eregbu. The exhibition featured a wide variety of artists (CCC Alumni and undergrad) pulling inspiration from D. Scott Miller’s Afrosurreal Manifesto: Black is the New Black and transposing this theme into multiple different mediums. In D. Scott Miller’s blog, he defines Afrosurrealism as a way to “revisit old ways with new eyes” and “distort reality for emotional impact” which I think translated almost perfectly across the exhibition.
The first stop of the exhibit was rather haunting and attention grabbing. “Take One” was the only description accompanying a uniform layout of what seemed to be white wedding invitations. The card stock was translucent and through a small pattern in the paper the words “ALL WHITE EVERYTHING” can be seen. It definitely made me feel uncomfortable in a good way, having to look long and hard at something to see what has been there all along, alluding to the purpose of the entire exhibition.
For the most part there was solid consistency between the different pieces sticking to the theme of an intricate, modern view of antique stereotypes. One of the most striking pieces was a sculpture of a man’s head made up of composite pieces of cardboard by Cecil McDonalds Jr. I enjoyed this piece so much because of the seeming simplicity with the presentation but the obvious craftsmanship and emotional details. Similarly a painting titled “Weave” by Cameron Welch caught my attention for the same reasons. The piece was so wonderfully haphazard in the way it flawlessly incorporated different aspects of its title “weave”. It seemed as if the viewer were looking in to a woven basket with different aspects of culture seeping through the seems.
Devin Cain stole the show for me with his film series in the dark room. My favorite short film was one featuring a morose looking clown and an innocent little girl. The whole thing had an uneasy feel due to the canted shot angles and shift between over and underexposure. Dancing with the devil and cheating death came to mind while watching the two dance. From a sound design perspective I fell in absolute LOVE with the ragtime feel with a dark, sinister twist. Most of the sounds were non diagetic, the only sound that was a diagetic “shh” from the Death character at different points of the film, creating the illusion that the audience is watching something that they aren’t supposed to. The film had a childish, carnival like feel to it in the worst ways possible which made it the best stop of the exhibition for me.
There were a couple pieces in the show that I felt did not connect with the rest, such as and board with the words “I eat brains” in different prints and a small notebook with a very white glove placed beside it. Art is very subjective by all means these pieces could have gone way over my head. I would love to learn more and plan to visit Marvelous Freedom/Vigilance of Desire, Revisited one more time to come to more conclusions. I feel like the entire exhibition is something worth seeing more than once.