The Slipstream: Reflection, Resilience, and Resistance in the Art of Our Time
The Brooklyn Museum
From May 14, 2021 – March 20, 2022
From May 14, 2021 through March 20, 2022, The Slipstream: Reflection, Resilience, and Resistance in the Art of Our Time will premiere at the Brooklyn Museum, featuring an exhibition that contemplates the tumultuous year of 2020 and its lasting impact on the future through new contemporary acquisitions, including artists Mel Chin, Arthur Jafa, Tschabalala Self, Simone Leigh, among others. The exhibition draws examples from the Brooklyn Museum’s renowned collection of contemporary art to examine the 2020 experience from a pandemic and civil unrest to a contested Presidential election and unchecked climate change, or the slipstream of 2020. This is all tied together with the exhibition’s title, which is borrowed from the aeronautical term which refers to the “pull of the current that is left in the wake of a large and powerful object.”
The Slipstream features works by multiple generations of artists dating from the 1960s to present day, with a centering on artists of color. Organized in seven sections including collective power, family ties, spiritual well-being, relationships to nature, and the simple rituals of daily life, visitors can view more than 60 artworks across a variety of mediums and styles. The exhibition overall hopes for individuals to find their feelings of fear, grief, vulnerability, anger, isolation, and despair, as well as those of joy, determination, and love through the artwork.
“The concept of the slipstream provides a vantage point from which to contemplate what has just passed while still feeling its pull, and to consider meaningful ways to move forward,” Eugenie Tsai, one of the exhibition’s curators, said. “The exhibition underscores the Brooklyn Museum’s longstanding commitment to building a collection that reflects diversity, equity, inclusion, and access, and to presenting art that centers the stories of people of color.”
Among the recent acquisitions featured in The Slipstream are major installations including Mel Chin’s long-running environmental justice project, The Fundred Reserve (2008–2019), and Simone Leigh’s Loophole of Retreat (2019), which is inspired by American abolitionist Harriet Jacobs’ autobiography recalling her journey to freedom. Recently acquired video and film works are also featured in The Slipstream, including Arthur Jafa’s film, akingdoncomethas (2018), which was made from found footage of Black church services and gospel performances, William Kentridge’s 4 Soho Eckstein Films (1989–91), which explores race and whiteness in South Africa’s apartheid system, and Tourmaline’s Salacia (2019), which follows a Black trans woman and sex worker as she navigates the harsh systems of racism and transphobia in New York during the 19th century.
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Textiles, appliqué, collage, and text are also among the broad range of techniques and materials used to expand the boundaries of contemporary art-making in the exhibition. Sadie Barnette enlarges and embellishes 500 files that the FBI gathered on her father, a former Black Panther member in My Father’s FBI File; Government Employees Installation (2017). Hugo McCloud uses hundreds of scraps from single-use plastic bags to display the way plastics travel from mass manufacturing to consumption and disposal in his work titled, cycle (2020). Using painted and found fabric appliqué and collage to capture a moment of lighthearted mischief among three exaggerated human forms is Tschabalala Self’s painting, Piss (2019), while Diedrick Brackens’ when no softness came (2019) is a textile work inspired by Black cowboys who reimagine the trope of the heroic male on horseback.
Other works speak to the issues presented in 2020 such as Paul Ramírez Jonas’ The Commons (2011), which is an interactive artwork that reconsiders the purpose of monuments, allowing viewers to add to the cork sculpture, shifting the focus from an individual leader to a collective power. Dindga McCannon’s painting, West Indian Day Parade (1976) celebrates the annual Caribbean carnival that surrounds the streets of the Brooklyn Museum, and Emma Amos’ Flower Sniffer (1966) depicts leisure and joy in the lives of Black people – a political act in its time and today.
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In conjunction with the exhibition, the Brooklyn Museum will debut a major commission designed by Nick Cave in collaboration with Bob Faust. Setting the tone for the works on view, Truth Be Told was originally created in response to the police killing of George Floyd in May 2020.
For more information on the exhibition, click here.