"Well, everything is always about memory, about excavating and then speculating upon history and images. I kind of make the same thing over and over again. I excavate my own memories and I insert myself into memories and histories that are not mine to try and recuperate them. Dark Matter (2006), Elsewhere (2010), and Remote Viewing (2011) all have different strategies. Elsewhere is an anomaly in that I didn’t even know why I was making that image. Through processing and editing it, I realized it was about recuperating that memory of the quintessential Essence magazine cover. I’m talking about those amazing covers from the mid- to late ’70s when they would do the summer Black Love issue where the cover would feature a chocolate couple, nude, embracing, Afros in effect. Then that wonderful font forEssence in lavender, vermillion, or safflower emblazoned over them. These magazine covers were, I’ve only recently realized, enormously impactful on my little, prepubescent imagination! Elsewhere was installed at the Blanton Museum of Art last year for the group show Desire. You had to approach it through a corridor; the projected image was folded into the far corner. You might enter it when a pile of lavender yarn gathering on a bed of corn husks is all that’s being projected, and you’re surrounded with the sounds of nature, birds, grasses, winds. Then—OMG!—a giant nipple appears. At this point a lot of people bolted out. A giant black areola isn’t something people are prepared to gaze upon…" - interview with artist Leslie Hewitt, BOMB Magazine
TABLEAU I SPY:
CONDUCT YOUR BLOOMING
Conduct Your Blooming is a phrase taken from the great poet Gwendolyn Brook’s poem “The Second Sermon on the Warpland”. Smith describes this poem as a love letter to working-class black people, saying ”She wrote that poem and ended it with her wish and her will for us: ‘Conduct Your Blooming In the Noise and the Whip of the Whirlwind.’ What more could one want for the people she loves?” The Black Love Procession was first performed in response to an artwork showing the outline of the body of murdered Michael Brown exhibited at a gallery in Bronzeville. Smith felt that the gallery was filled with work that was violently offensive. She met with a group of artists and all determined to create an event that was an offering instead of a protest. “We just wanted to tell our folk that we loved them.” said Smith. This love came in the form of “The Black Love Procession”, a literal translation of their intention and a way to honor the losses to the Black community that have been felt so strongly the past year while also creating a hopeful environment.
EPISODE 24. ELSEWHERE. Inspired by Essence Magazine’s yearly “black love issue.” Do some of ya’ll remember? As a kid I just loved the erotic charge of these covers. Only as an adult do I understand the very deliberate crafting of a very particular heterotopia. Black bodies safe while vulnerable in nature. Pleasure celebrated. Procreation an after thought instead of the message. So semiotically interesting and deep, these images are to me, that I had to make a film to try and understand them. == no more need for #shutinfilmfestival. Folks are no longer sheltering in place. I’m so happy the two shows I have up right now are receiving visitors! @whitneymuseum #mutualities and @sandiegomuseumofart #floricanta . Even so -I wish ya’ll would stay home because we actually are not safe. Lots of folks very vulnerable. Let’s look out for each other. 💚🌲🌺🙆🏾♀️☠️🤟🏾👁🧶👚🐞🌿🌑🎬🛤💜💗❤️💜💗❤️🟣♠️🙏🏾Thanks @amberesseiva for getting me to resurrect this work. 🙏🏾💜
Penn, Charli. “Every Single Time Black Love Reigned Supreme On ESSENCE Covers Through the Years.” Essence. Essence, September 27, 2016