feature: radical presence: black performance in contemporary art in minneapolis

July 23, 2014

‘Radical Presence: Black Performance in Contemporary Art’ showcases Thursday, July 24th at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, MN. Midwestern AfroPunks who weren’t privy to the two-part exhibitions at the NYU Grey Arts Gallery and The Studio Museum in Harlem earlier this year will now be able to experience the groundbreaking show in Minnesota. A vision of Curator Valerie Cassel Oliver, the conceptual performance show consists of a long roster of conceptual moving artists and will be the first to feature a predominantly black crew. Chronicling the journey of black performance art starting in the 1960s, it transforms a typical free(!) admission night at the Walker into an interactive witness to a live history of black culture.

By Mali DC, AFROPUNK Contributor *

Pope.L, Eating the Wall Street Journal

An audible, moving, and visual survey of black performance art, the work draws from the original Fluxus in which it was once conceived–a hodge-podge of artistic mediums–that is then interwoven with contemporary art performance. Avant-garde artists like that of Theaster Gates and Clifford Owens will also showcase. Commencing the reception on Thursday will be The Last Trumpet from the late Terry Adkins, occurring at 6:30pm, followed by other performances by Pope.L and Senga Nengudi/Maren Hassinger.

Jacolby Satterwhite, Orifice (2010-2012)

On Friday, July 26th, a discussion titled, “Performance in Practice” will be moderated by Walker curator Fionn Meade and will take place between contemporary artists Xaviera Simmons, Adam Pendleton, and Jacolby Satterwhite, whose Orifice (2010-2012) will also be apart of the weekend’s opening program.

 Trenton Doyle Hancock, Devotion

Radical Presence doesn’t define nor redefine black performance art, but facilitates an much needed quandary into the history of black performance art. I urge visitors to ask themselves if they’re viewing black artists performing or artists performing blackness whilst absorbing each piece. Radical Presence won’t answer these questions directly, but will coax you into understanding how “radical” “performance art” and “black” coalesce like a visual and conceptual game of Tetris. An essential art history lesson for all AfroPunks.

Lorraine O’Grady, Mlle Bourgeoisie Noire

Thursday, July 24: Opening exhibits and performances, 6-9pm, Free

Friday, July 26: Panel Discussion: Performance in Practice, 2pm, Free

Friday, July 26: Live Performance of Jamal Cyrus’s Texas Fried Tenor (2012).

On display until January 4, 2015.

* Mali DC is a black, feminist writer from the Twin Cities and co-editor of The New Minnesota Project. Know a Midwestern artist you want covered? Email her with your suggestions or chit chat at newmnproject [at] gmail [dot] com or