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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Question Bridge examines black male identity

Andrew Young contributes to the Question Bridge project
  • Question Bridge
  • Andrew Young contributes to the Question Bridge project
"Black man. Do you want to get out of the situation you're in? What is the reluctance for taking responsibility for improving our communities? Are your children better or worse off as a result of your involvement? Why wouldn't you be happy with your son being gay?"

This series of questions asked by black males of varying ages opens the trailer for Question Bridge: Black Males, a "transmedia art project that seeks to represent and redefine Black male identity in America." Directed by artists Chris Johnson and Hank Willis Thomas, in collaboration with Bayeté Ross Smith and Atlanta-based artist and producer Kamal Sinclair, Question Bridge was filmed across America, including Oakland, San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Birmingham, Atlanta, New Orleans, and Philadelphia, over the last four years. Beginning Jan. 27, the Chastain Arts Center will host a video installation to exhibit the work.

The artists interviewed 150 African-American men about black male identity and edited them into a kind of call and response between participants to "to create something that resonates as essentially genuine to viewer and subjects, and provides audiences with an intimate window into the complex and often unspoken dialogue between African American men…In this light, ‘Blackness’ ceases to be a simple, monochromatic concept. A major ambition is to transform our audiences’ appreciation for the diversity within any demographic and provide new opportunities for healing and understanding,” explain the artists in their statement.

"We started off dealing with black males for the Question Bridge concept because we felt that black males have really extremely distorted damaging conceptions and preconceptions dealing with their identity," explains Smith in another Question Bridge video.

"I hope that this project serves to abolish monolithic notions of black male identity," adds Thomas.

To that end, beyond the exhibit, the project also includes a youth curriculum program for teachers and the opportunity for viewers to engage by tracking their identities with the project by adding their own questions and responses.

The show, which will also be presented at the Brooklyn Museum (Jan. 13-June 22), Sundance Film Festival New Frontier exhibit (Jan. 19—29), and Salt Lake City Arts Center (Jan. 19-May 19), runs through March 17 at Chastain Arts Center.

Question Bridge: Black Males - Project Trailer from Question Bridge on Vimeo.

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