MMoCA | Rashaad Newsome: ICON

August 11, 2017 to December 3, 2017


Rashaad Newsome is a New York based artist whose multidisciplinary practice combines collage, video, music, computer programming, and performance. On view in the museum’s Imprint Gallery, this exhibition focuses solely on the video-based component of the artist’s larger practice, and highlights works that showcase his engagement with the dance phenomenon of voguing. Although voguing emerged from Harlem’s queer ballroom scene during the 1960s and 70s, the dance style entered the cultural mainstream in 1990 with Madonna’s iconic music video “Vogue,” now remembered as a notorious instance of cultural appropriation. Newsome, however, celebrates the true origins of voguing, thereby reclaiming a vital cultural history by giving it back to the queer Black and Latino community from which it arose.

The exhibition includes Untitled (2008) and Untitled—New Way (2009), two of Newsome’s earlier works that document contemporary vogue culture: the artist filmed dancers’ vogue improvisations, edited the footage to isolate certain dance elements, and asked the dancers re-perform their movements based on his video-edited choreography. Also on view are two of the artist’s more recent video works, ICON (2014) and Stop Playing in My Face (2016), both of which weave together the exuberant pageantry of voguing with digitally-rendered backdrops of glittering architectural spaces. At a moment when individuals of all races are questioning sex and gender-based binaries, Newsome’s videos offer a timely examination of cultural power and agency within the context of gender, sexuality, and race.

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