Amber N. Ford
Feb 18-Jun 5, 2021
Shikeith, Still Waters Run Deep (still), 2021, installation with video, dimensions variable. Courtesy the artist.
“What happens when we proceed as if we know this, antiBlackness, to be the ground on which we stand, the ground from which we to attempt to speak, for instance, an “I” or a “we” who know, an “I” or a “we” who care?"—Christina Sharpe, In the Wake: On Blackness and Being
Imagine Otherwise expresses the boundlessness and fierceness of Black imagination and love despite ongoing antiBlack violence as it thinks with Christina Sharpe’s groundbreaking book In the Wake: On Blackness and Being. Featuring artists Shikeith, Imani Dennison, Amber N. Ford, and Antwoine Washington, this multimedia exhibition spotlights Black pathways to self-determination and collective liberation through photographic, sculptural, mixed media, and video-based installations. This careful navigation, or “wake work,” to use Sharpe’s term, operates beyond representational politics as it interrogates spatial and temporal tensions of disenfranchisement, resistance, memory, visibility, loss, and (re)invention across Black cultures.
Shikeith explores how Black queer re-making is a sacred space and practice in his two-part installation, still waters run deep / fall in your ways (2021). Using poetry, historical narratives, ambient recordings of children's rhymes, shades of blue, dance, and organic elements such as water, Shikeith maps Black men's negotiations of intimacy and routes toward freedom beyond architectural and societal constraints.
Imani Dennison’s NO MAS- Irreversible Entanglements (2020), filmed on location in Johannesburg, South Africa, offers a dream-like meditation. In only eight minutes, vibrant imagery coupled with the fluid, yet energetic, free jazz and poetry of the Philadelphia, New York, Washington DC-based group Irreversible Entanglements presents an intoxicating, otherworldly Afro-futurist vision of Black people escaping all terrestrial confinements.
Amber N. Ford’s detailed photographic attention to relationships of subjects and infinite patterning zooms in and out through Strands, Tracks & Naps (2021). Reminiscent of a display of coiffures in a hair salon, lush color portraits, small studies, and collage superimposed on a dense close-up of passion twists express the vast geography of Black ways of being.
Antwoine Washington employs domestic furnishings and murals as visual storytelling in And Yeah, About that Seat at the Table (2021). The artist’s multimedia installation highlights how that proverbial access point to power is illusory for most Black people, while also honoring a long history of Black self-making.
Organized by La Tanya S. Autry, Gund Curator in Residence, moCa Cleveland’s first on-staff Black curator creating exhibitions in its 52-year history, Imagine Otherwise is unlike any other curatorial project funded by the institution. As a manifestation of “wake work,” this city-wide initiative is sited at moCa Cleveland (Shikeith), ThirdSpace Action Lab in Glenville (Imani Dennison and Amber N. Ford), and Museum of Creative Human Art/Larchmere Arts (Antwoine Washington). Autry envisions possibilities beyond moCa Cleveland’s consistent antiBlack practices by partnering with these Black-led and centered organizations that regularly care for Black residents and others while challenged with far smaller budgets than many area white-led and centered arts institutions. Offered during another heightened time of national racial crisis, Imagine Otherwise is a limited, yet hopefully, significant prodding for an authentic, community-led institutional reckoning of moCa Cleveland and a soulful salute to the city’s Black dwellers who persist by always imagining otherwise.
ThirdSpace Action Lab, Glenville
1464 E 105th St #302, Cleveland, OH 44106
Museum of Creative Human Art (MOCHA) presented at Larchmere Arts
12726 Larchmere Blvd, Cleveland
Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland (moCa), Cleveland
11400 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44106