Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Wonderful (Art) World of Renee Cox

(Yo Mama's Last Supper)

Who is Renee Cox, you ask? Simply put, Renee Cox is one of the fiercest, smartest, engaging, and disruptive photographers/visual artists doing her thing in the art world today. And I won't deny that it tickles me that she is a Black woman who has consistently defied boundaries and unapolegetically done her thing as an artist. She is perhaps best well known for using her own naked body in her work as a way of tackling questions around race, gender, sexuality, desire, and power and not being afraid to use humor to make her point visually. Personally, I have been deeply moved by her attempt to reclaim and celebrate the black female body in a cultural landscape that only ever sees black women's bodies as sites of exploitation, degradation, or base sexuality. Cox puts her naked body out there and restores Black women's full humanity -- our bodies are given full expression. Her images range from the sacred to the perverse and that is truly the beauty of her work -- there is no sugarcoating or flattening Black women's experiences in these images. Black women are madonnas holding on to their dying sons; they are Caribbean national heroes defending their communities and resisting slavery; and they're freaks who pour their bodies into latex and masturbate in front of the camera.

In short Black women don't need to be put on pedestals, we just want to be treated like human beings who experience the feel range of emotions and desires as anyone else on this planet. And that is why I love Renee Cox. She's creating space and challenging convention and wants everybody else to do the same. She's putting her body on display but not to fulfill someone else's desires, but to articulate her own. In the wonderful (art) world of Renee Cox, it is a fucking party and everyone is invited. But you gotta play by Renee's rules.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I saw Renee Cox give a lecture at
The University of Texas at Austin,
she was fantastic.