Image: (c) Rashaad Newsome, "Black Magic", 2020
RASHAAD NEWSOME: Black Magic
Dec 01 - Feb 01, 2021
“Black individuals have had to possess an enormous amount of strength to navigate systemic racism. That power is amplified to an extraordinary amount when we unite.” - Rashaad Newsome
BLACK MAGIC (2020) is a tripartite project by artist Rashaad Newsome. The project launches with two simultaneous events on December 1, World AIDS Day. The premiere of “Black Magic”, a multi-channel work and live performance co-commissioned with Times Square Arts that combines improvisational performance, animations, and intricately designed graphics, opens with a parallel installation of vinyl wallpaper in the Museum’s Living Room Gallery windows. The project continues in 2021 with the debut of the full film by the artist on leslielohman.org and a virtual event presented in partnership with Eyebeam.
The work is on view every night in Time Square from December 1-31 from 11:57 PM to midnight during the artist’s Midnight Moment.
Carefully choreographed across 72 digital displays each night in December, Black Magic carves out a space for transgression and liberation within the dominant culture of Times Square, while also resonating with the district’s long history as a gathering place for celebration, protest, creativity, and performance.
Newsome draws heavily from the diasporic tradition of improvisation and collage, which he associates with Jazz music and the unique pastiche culture of his native New Orleans. Object making, film, technology, performance, and community organizing collide to create a gumbo of creative methodologies in his work. In Black Magic, he combines the footage from FIVE, a live vogue performance, with the King of Arms Tincture, an animated graphic pattern which references the architecture, design, and decorative wallpaper of a typical New Orleans lounge.
Black Magic draws from traditions of performance and improvisation born out of Black liberation movements as well as Newsome’s personal experiences growing up in New Orleans. King of Arms Tincture evokes the place-making of domestic lounges and meeting places, while the dancers of FIVE fill a space with vibrant performance. In FIVE, Newsome asked a cast of New York-based performers to respond to and personally reinterpret the idea of ‘Black Magic’ through vogue. Whether the dancers are alone on stage or together as a group, they are always connected through a shared vocabulary of dance moves that has been created within a community.
Bringing together the visual, musical, and performative expressions of marginalized communities through boundary-defying cross-cultural aesthetics is at the heart of Newsome’s practice. Through this installation, Newsome hopes to encourage an interrogation of family dynamics and community constructions in a celebration of difference and togetherness.
Rashaad Newsome (b. 1979), noted for an interdisciplinary art practice encompassing collage, sculpture, film, photography, music, computer programming, software engineering, and community organizing at the intersection of Blackness, technology, and queerness.