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The voice of Black America October 2, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts, Culture.

Black Alphabet is the first major showing of contemporary African-American art in Europe.

Polish culture looks homogeneous when contrasted with the cultural patchwork of America. A new exhibition at the Zachęta National Gallery of Art in Warsaw presents the African-American face of the US.

Black Alphabet, which organizers say is the first such exhibition not only in Poland but in the whole of Europe, provides the ABCs of contemporary African-American art. It presents the art’s diversity, explores its main trends, contexts and concepts, and gives voice to many distinct African-American perspectives.

Through art, African-Americans express their aspirations to be treated as equals in American society. Due to the US’ history of slavery, contemporary African-American art is politically charged, with artists speaking on cultural, social as well as political issues. They focus on identity, race, racism, and violence among blacks, which they say stems from slavery and racial segregation. Some artists in the exhibition find their inspiration in pop culture, especially hip hop, and for others gender and body issues are more important.

The exhibition presents the work of more than 30 artists, who use different modes of expression (painting, sculpture, photography, video, video installations and performance) and come from different artistic environments (New York, Los Angeles, Memphis, Houston, Washington and Chicago).

Black Alphabet is on show at Zachęta, Poland until November 19.

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