Week6 Humanity project
Raceis one of the most sensitive issues in the modern American society.The work of art I have selected for my final project relates to thisexplosive issue in the society. I have selected the QuestionBridge.The QuestionBridgeis an art project that was created by Chris Johnson, Hank WillisThomas, Bayete Ross Smith and Kamal Sinclair. The aim of the bridgequestion project was to redefine African American males in the modernAmerican society. One of the main reasons why I have selected thisartistic work is the fact that I am an African American man who isinterested in expanding my knowledge on how the larger society thinksabout me or us. In the project, the artists and collaboratorstravelled in different parts of the United States to collectinformation from more than one hundred and fifty men of AfricanAmerican decency (Willis et al, 2015). This art work consists of bothhanging panels displaying African American faces and videos. Thevideos are clips of African American men speaking directly to acamera on different aspects of their life. The films are collectivedialogues of African American men talking about family, community,society, sexuality and violence they have faced in the Americansociety (Feaster, 2012). The gallery room is designed in such a waythat the visitors feel live witnesses to the dialogue. When thequestion is asked, there are different African Americans respondingto the question giving their experiences. The questions are bothhumorous and practical, which ensures that the art is bothentertaining and informative. Through mediated questions and answers,the African American men are able to discuss challenging issues thatface minority races in the American society. This results into agenuine and intimate experience for the viewers. Additionally, themedia art has been able to create a meaningful conversation on racialand generational divisions among African American men in the UnitedStates (Willis et al, 2015).
Asstated earlier, race is one of the most explosive issues in theAmerican society. Since the slavery era, individuals of Africandecency have been faced with a wide range of challenges. Majority ofdiscussions related to race has been based on legal and social issue.However, art has a significance contribution in the racialdiscussions in the American society (Samad, 2007). The QuestionBridge isan important piece of art which give an opportunity for the Americansto open their minds and explore the truth about racial relations. TheQuestionBridge iswhat can be described as a “dialogical aesthetic”. According toKester (2004), dialogical aesthetic can be described as a type of artwhich is “concerned with the creative facilitation of dialogue andexchange” (p 8). Traditionally, artists and their arts have becomefamous by ensuring that the arts provoke dialogue among the targetedaudience. This dialogue mainly occurs in response to the artisticwork. However, the QuestionBridge isbased on a different model of artistic dialogue. In the QuestionBridge,the art itself is the dialogue, initiating further dialogue. The roleof the artists is not providing materials or content to be discussedin the conversation, but rather the providing the context in whichthe conversation occurs. As a result, the dialogue created by theQuestionBridge continuousbeyond what is covered by the videos clips or gallery. Sociallyengaged pieces of art are very common in the modern art works. Thisis evident in the QuestionBridge whichis based on social and political activism (Fruchtman, 2012).
TheQuestionBridge issuccessful in creating an entry point and an important platform forAfrican American men to contribute in the racial debate in America.In addition to generating a creative conversation, the award winningart provides an opportunity of the African American males to redefinethemselves and their identity in the American society. Over theyears, the African American male has been a victim of racial bias andprejudice. This has resulted into African American males beinglabeled as criminals. This has resulted into over representation ofAfrican American males in the criminal justice system. Due tocriminal profiling, African Americans are more likely to be stoppedin the highway and convicted of minor crimes. Additionally, they havebeen victims of police brutality and violence. In the society, racialstereotypes and prejudice against African Americans has resulted intoinformal discrimination (Bonilla-Silva, 2014). The QuestionBridge engagesthe audience and the general public using different platforms in adialogue that seeks to redefine African American men in the society.The dialogue begins by generating a group generated identity (Purves& Selzer, 2014).
Thereis no doubt that the late 20thcentury and beginning of the 21stcentury has been a critical period in the history of AfricanAmericans. In the recent past, a significant number of AfricanAmericans have transcended the boundaries associated with racialstereotypes. However, a large number of them are confined by the biasin the society, despite the fact that an African American male hasbeen able to become the president of the United States (Weatherspoon,2014). While an increasing number of Americans view African Americansmale as equal members of the society, there are some negativeassociations. The QuestionBridge aimsat opening a window of opportunity for black males to share theirunspoken experiences and allow the audience to appreciate theirpredicaments. It also provides opportunity for black males who havesuffered due to these predicaments to open up and heal. Therefore, bycreating a new African American male identity, the QuestionBridge makesit difficult to develop a particular stereotype against black males(Purves & Selzer, 2014).
TheQuestionBridge dealswith a critical issue in the modern American society. By initiating adebate that has created a new group generated identity of AfricanAmerican males, there is no doubt that the art has been able toachieve its intended purpose. There is no doubt any American wouldtake his or time to view the video clips in the documentary.Additionally, the QuestionBridge hasbeen successful in making Americans, especially the audience todiscuss the predicaments of black males in the society. Narrow pointof view has criticized the documentary for focusing on the challengesfacing African American males in the society, while there arenumerous groups in America facing similar or more aggravatedchallenges. For example, Native Americans, women, Latin American,Muslims and other minority groups have faced similar or worsestereotypes, profiling and discrimination. However, the documentaryis not meant for black males only. It aims at initiating a discussionthat would create a new identity among underprivileged groups in theAmerican society. Although any piece of art cannot be perfect, thereis no doubt that QuestionBridge isa magnificent creation (Willis et al, 2015).
Bonilla-Silva,E. (2014). Racismwithout racists: color-blind racism and the persistence of racialinequality in America.Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield.
Feaster,F. (2012). QuestionBridge: Black Males Reaffirms the Importance of Race Issues.http://burnaway.org/review/question-bridge-black-males-reaffirms-the-importance-of-race-issues/
Fruchtman,S. (2012). “QuestionBridge:Black Males. Socially Engaged Art and the Politics of Dialogue”.TheArbutus Review3(1), p 53-67.
Kester,G. H. (2004). Conversationpieces: Community and communication in modern art.Berkeley, California: University of California Press.
Purves,T. & Selzer, A. (2014). Whatwe want is free: critical exchanges in recent art.Albany: State University of New York Press.
Samad,A. A. (2007). "Post-black" thought in art and culture: Thecontinuing effort to make race relevant". LosAngeles Sentinel,72(5).
Weatherspoon,F. (2014). African-Americanmales and the US justice system of marginalization: a nationaltragedy.Basingstoke: Palgrave Pivot.
Willis,D. et al. (2015). QuestionBridge: Black males in America.New York, N.Y.: Aperture Foundation.