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The Color Line

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For the exhibition series 'The Color Line' Orgacom and The Trinity Session / Stephen Hobbs & Marcus Neustetter work together in order to develop a mutual subjective mapping of Johannesburg (South-Africa) and Istanbul (Turkey) at the Jack Shainman Gallery in New York (USA). The aim is to make audiences realise how we create emotional, spatial, embodied and cultural mental maps of extra large and rapidly changing cities in a way that strikes a chord with those in similar habitats. In a presentation - using photos and spoken commentaries on the cities - the sound and image recordings of the two cities are mixed together so it is difficult for viewers to understand which city is shown. This makes him or her free to think of experiences they had in mega cities elsewhere.

In the exhibition series The Color Line, the main point of investigation is the relationships the selected artists have in their line of aesthetic inquiry with Africa and its Diaspora, as well as with intellectual notions of black, white and color as formats utilized to signify race and culture. Furthermore, its curator, Odili Donald Odita wants to look into the psychological condition of color as separate from, and in relation to the philosophical condition of black and white. This is not an exhibition about formalism in contemporary art, on the contrary, this is an exhibition about the specific, complex and rich ideas the participating artists are investigating within their individual practices that have a direct or remote relation to Africa. And in turn, Odili wants to consider the complex conditions of African identity within a global context.

The term, 'Black and White,' is normally understood as a basic pragmatic idea of clarity within thought, reasoning, and presentation. Black and white is also seen as an absolute in terms of value judgment. This exhibition is intent on investigating this pretense and research in a deep way the metaphoric conditions black and white has within the human consciousness. It sets out to look into aspects of desire/desiring in relation to black and white, and to look into notions of 'the missing' (obviously color), and speak about these absences identifiable within these spaces. On a psychological level black and white will be examined here as a repository for the unfathomable, the unquenched and the unfinished. The exhibition addresses the tension of this incompleteness found in this type of pictorial space where the viewer fills in and becomes the void that exists between the polar extremes of black and white.

The Color Line will also look into the ever-persistent problematic condition of black and white as it deals with race, and what manifests as a continued imbalanced state of power between these two absolute value positions. This project will utilize the production of the exhibiting artist working in black and white to bring some insight into this aesthetic/socio-cultural problem.

The premise of color here is one of description. Color fills in the blank that is left open within a black and white format. Color describes the world in a more complex, if obvious way, and yet the specificity of color can make this newfound complexity that much more alluring and mysterious. Questions become even greater in a world of color as there seems to be more to see, and more to choose.

The issue of color also becomes interestingly rich when the intellectual notion of aesthetics with culture merges in its wake. Aesthetic concerns adapt themselves quite well within a culture frame, as they qualify through narrative means the distinct character of particular histories and societal lines. The reaffirmation of these distinctions within a self can bring outward an understanding of the complexity of relations that weave together varying human experiences. The Color Line will look into the manifestations of culture as it comes to color. As previously stated, color in its descriptive state will also make reference to race in particular, as well as to culture and the aesthetic. This condition of multiplicity has always been inherent within color; it is now in these contemporary times that we can be freer to discuss these multiplicities without an impinging ideological/aesthetic censoring.

The relevance of this and other curatorial projects that Odili Donald Odita has executed is the direct approach he took as an artist who curates with collaboration and partnership in mind. In the 21st Century, it is reassuring to understand that the role of the artist has become multivalent in ways that it now allows them to write, curate, and hold positions of power over our their own art production and careers. The artist today has the power and the potential to make their position ring clear within a global and societal context. In this way, the artist can be better equipped to challenge standards of cultural presentation within an art market structure. It is also imperative that we are able to find new ways to move ourselves forward and face the continued challenges involved in growth, success and survival as a community. The acceptance and responsibility of self-power is just a first step. In this exhibition it will be seen that we can present our voices together as contemporary artists without the acrimony of an extremely divisive market place.

Tiong Ang
Radcliffe Bailey
Christiaan Bastiaans
Bili Bidjocka
Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons
Nick Cave
Jean-Ulrick Désert
Kira Lynn Harris
Fred Holland
Rashid Johnson
Remy Jungerman
Kerry James Marshall
Nzingah Muhammad
Senga Nengudi
Mario Cravo Neto
Olu Oguibe
Senam Okudzeto
Carl Pope
Miguel Angel Rios
The Trinity Session / Stephen Hobbs & Marcus Neustetter
Stanley Whitney

Curator: Odili Donald Odita

Catalogue essay by N'Goné Fall

The Color Line
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