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Mia to present “Mapping Black Identities: 3 Films”

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The Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia) will present a screening of three recent video works titled “Mapping Black Identities: 3 Films” from May 4 through September 8, 2019, in Gallery 370. Featuring films by Ja’Tovia Gary (American, b. 1984), Nástio Mosquito (Angolan, b. 1981), and Tabita Rezaire (French-born Guyanese-Danish, b. 1989), the works in this series unapologetically confront the legacy of systemic white supremacy by presenting conflicting realities. As a whole, the three films give voice to the experiences of Black artists by providing differing worldviews that envision the transformative righting of past wrongs, and the pursuit of freedom in an unjust world.

The film series will be shown concurrently with “Mapping Black Identities,” an installation that features 18 artists from the United States, Africa, and the greater African Diaspora who champion the multiplicity of Black identity. On view through summer 2020, the exhibition includes work by Frank Bowling, Kerry James Marshall, Nick Cave, Julie Mehretu, Charles Gaines, Kevin Beasley, Sam Gilliam, Joe Overstreet, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Emma Amos, Delita Martin, Igshaan Adams, Elizabeth Catlett, Todd Gray, Cinga Samson, Deana Lawson, Kwame Brathwaite, and J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere. Collectively, their work confronts the notion of Black identity as monolithic and seeks to amplify underrepresented voices and create connections around the concept of Blackness in contemporary art across time and place. The majority of artwork in the show comes from Mia’s permanent collection, with many recent acquisitions presented publicly for the first time. Several artworks will be rotated midway through the show, allowing for additional artists to be featured throughout the exhibition run.

Both installations were inspired by Mia’s recent acquisition of Frank Bowling’s large-scale map painting False Start (1970), which challenges Eurocentric historical narratives. In False Start, Bowling maps an expansive yet intimate geography that charts his path from Bartica, Guyana, to London and New York. Rejecting the graphic formalism of pure abstraction, his “Map Paintings” (1967–71) refer to postcolonialism, his own Afro-Caribbean roots, and the broader African diaspora. The composition of False Start features prominent outlines of the continents of the Southern Hemisphere—Africa, Australia, and South America—rendered in tones of white and pink. Through its omission of Europe, the image challenges Eurocentric historical narratives while drawing attention to the expansive footprint of colonialism and imperialism.

“Mapping Black Identities: 3 Films” and “Mapping Black Identities” are co-curated by Mia’s Department of Contemporary Art, including Esther Callahan, Curatorial Affairs Fellow; Gabriel Ritter, Curator and Department Head; Nicole Soukup, Assistant Curator; and Keisha Williams, Curatorial Department Assistant and Artist Liaison, in collaboration with Mia’s Curatorial Advisory Committee. This committee is composed of Mia staff who champion the prerogatives of inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility by advising on Mia’s curation, labeling, and programming practices.