Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Subversive Art of Kehinde Wiley

Within the professional sexual assault prevention community we discuss the stereotypes of perpetrators regularly – they are the scary black men hiding in the shadows waiting to pounce on us, right? This is a ridiculous and extremely harmful perception too commonly felt, and a previous post has discussed the fact that white men in fact commit most of the interpersonal violence in the United States. Given this, how does the dominant conception of black masculinity affect these ridiculous, and dangerous misconceptions about who is truly threatening us with violence? Even better – as a white guy what does my perception of black masculinities say about how I think of myself as a man? Am I safe, harmless...cynical because I perceive others to be dangerous? The culture of white masculinity is in large part insecurity coupled with entitlement - it’s nice to have an artist like Kehinde Wiley interrogating my own insecurities and entitlement as he presents us with “anti-portraits” of black men. Read below what Wiley says about his art in an Art in America interview, and then check it out for yourself:

Black masculinity has been codified in a fixed way...I’m not trying to provide a direct corrective, but I am trying to point to a history of signs as they relate to black people in the media...There is a certain desire in my work to tie the urban street and the way it’s been depicted with elements not necessarily coded as masculine.

- Patrick Lincoln Share

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