Radical Imaginaries: An Exploded View is an art installation exploring the progression from a modern, essentialist, black female subjectivity toward one that is fluid, postmodern, and radical. Grounded primarily in theories from black female intellectuals bell hooks and Melissa-Harris Perry, the installation sets out to visualize the destruction of the “crooked room” – a theoretical space wherein black female subjectivity is regulated and circumscribed – and the concomitant creation of an alternative conception of space wherein blackness is both questioned and loved.

glass, mirror, wire, flashlight, iPhone—2015

 
 
 
 

In the words of black feminist scholar Patricia Hills Collins : "offering subordinate groups new knowledge about their own experiences can be empowering [...]But revealing new ways of knowing that allow subordinate groups to define their own reality has far greater implications."

This quote highlights the importance of theorizing --and in the artist's case, visualizing -- the experience of black women. "Radical Imaginaries: An Exploded View" does just this at it first recreates the crooked room, second destroys it and lastly offers alternate ways of experiencing and embracing blackness.

 

 

 


 

CONCEPTUALIZATON

“The Crooked Room” is a term coined by Black Intellectual Melissa Harris-Perry in her book “Sister Citizens”. Harris-Perry uses the metaphor of a crooked room in which black women struggle to right themselves to explain why black women’s public actions and political strategies are at times tilted in ways that facilitate their exclusion and marginalization. This crooked room is a space wherein otherness as a whole is subject to clear limitations and boundaries — here oppression shapes the oppressed to the fullest extent.

In contrast, bell hooks' concept of a black radical female subjectivity represents a movement away from the discourse of “good v. bad” representations which fix blackness in relation to whiteness (and the manner in which it is perceived by whiteness), towards a discourse that pushes for transgressive and challenging images of blackness. Thus, radical black subjectivity offers an alternative to the experience of the crooked room, which has been built over years and generations to police black women and construe their existence in narrow and clearly delineated ways.

 
 
“THE RISE OF THE CARE-FREE BLACK GIRL, TUMBLR ACTIVISTS AND BLACK TWITTER”, :
HOW DOES ONE EMBRACE A RADICAL BLACK FEMALE SUBJECTIVITY IN AN INCREASINGLY DIGITAL WORLD?

Can the alternate imaginary that bell hooks speaks of be found in the virtual world? If radical black subjectivity is the freedom of the black body to perform blackness, to perform gender without restrictions and with total disregard for constructed binaries, then what happens when these bodies disappear in the virtual world? Do they disappear?
 
 
 

 

The installation is comprised of shards of glass, plexiglas and mirrors hanging from the ceiling, replicating the shape of an exploded room/building. The movement towards a postmodern form of subjectivity –characterized by a self that is necessarily fragmented, pluralistic and fluid — is represented by the constantly changing shadows created by the the reflection of lights onto the glass shards. 

 


 
 

PROCESS

Materials:

  • Glass

  • Mirror

  • Metal Wire

  • Markers

 
 

OBSTACLES

  • Adding a digital element

  • Building the installation

  • Finding a space

  • A lack of movement

 
 
 
 

THE LAUNCH

 

 

WHAT NEXT?

  • A more in depth exploration of the possibilities for a radical black female subjectivity in virtual space

  • A larger installation with more elements (sound, movement, touch)

  • A more collaborative approach including artists of other kinds (musician, videographer, etc.)