Currently on view at the Museum of Contemporary Photography, in the show Phantoms in the Dirt. Up through October 5ht.
A group exhibition Curated by Adam Kremer. Presented by V1 Gallery and Bad News at Black Bear Bar.
Works by Meg T Noe, Harry Gould Harvey IV, Daniel Shea
Opening reception Friday September 5th 20.00 - 22.00
Bad News at Black Bear Bar, 70 N6 Street, Brooklyn NY
Hope to see you Friday :)
Michael Brown was shot in the street and his body remained in the street for 4 hours. The media descended on Ferguson, and we continued, for the most part to receive condensed morsels of coverage, conveniently packaged into digestible narratives. In effect, his body has been left in the street for 3 weeks, I see photographers I know and some I don’t sent to cover the situation, events, protest, unrest, etc, but everything makes me feel uneasy and worse. I see people post photos they took in Ferguson with their own name hash-tagged.
I just finished making a book, that in a very general sense, critically engages with “America,” and yet I could not for the life of me comprehend how to think about what was happening in Ferguson. In a basic way, I felt sadness, rage, and confusion. And it can seem very simple, a culture that privileges me over someone else takes another causality. But beyond that, I was frustrated by my own fear of responding to a specific situation knowing that it’s a point in a web of history and cause and affect, both physical and abstract. And feeling frustrated knowing that my silence, and possibly complacency, was and is an extension of my own privilege. It’s hard to put into language what feels very much beyond language.
I read through this article yesterday, and it resonated. Particularly:
However, I think the explanation is more complex and mirrors the silence of many people that I witness in real life. A lot of white people aren’t speaking out publicly against the killing of Michael Brown because they don’t see a space for themselves to engage meaningfully in the conversation so that they can move to action against racism. It’s not so much that they have nothing to say but rather they don’t see an opportunity being opened up for them to say something or to do something that matters. Or they might not be sure what to say or how to do it.
Let’s talk about an active role for white people in the fight against racism because racism burdens all of us and is destroying our communities. And, quite frankly, because white people have a role in undoing racism because white people created and, for the most part, currently maintain (whether they want to or not) the racist system that benefits white people to the detriment of people of color. My white friends who’ve spoken out harshly against the murder of Michael Brown end with a similar refrain: What can I do that will matter in the fight against racism?
White people who are sick and tired of racism should work hard to become white allies.
Inevitably, the media will slowly pack up and leave, and a lot of people will forget what happened in Ferguson. White people will (subconsciously) breath a sigh of relief, allowed to go back to their news without a daily reminder of the brutal realities of racism in America, until the next “thing” happens. As white folks, we have a responsibility to try and understand the events around Ferguson with more precision and complexity. We need to examine racism around us and engage in conversations about it.
A question to you all - what are good articles and resources you’ve come across in the past 3 weeks? I’m specifically interested in reading about the media’s response to the events that unfolded and their shaping of the narrative. I’m in the early stages of talking to a major publication about sponsorship of a long term project in Ferguson, and I’d like the work to be collaborative, democratic, un-authored, and radical in its commitment to unpacking racism in 2014. But I’m also highly suspicious of myself, what the work might look like, the publication, its syndication,etc. I’m not entirely sure that’s the most effective place for me to work or attempt to contribute. We have a lot of work to do, and I know it’s important to be critical of the mechanisms of response, not just the underlying systems of oppression.