On the occasion of the exhibition The Black Image Corporation. Theaster Gates, Mac Folkes and Peggy Kurka discuss how interactions and experiences with the void shape one’s sense of self and informs the personal, public and politics of identity.
Be it natural or man-made, landscapes have voids. Our tendency is to fill these voids and occupy them with things that are useful and productive. Addressing the dearth of progressive Black representation across the United States’ cultural and media landscapes, The Black Image Corporation, conceived by Theaster Gates, presents artifacts of Afrocentric imagery from the Johnson Publishing Archive. Beyond merely filling a void, the magazines Ebony and Jet provided corrective touchstones as they re-centered the Black gaze, and persistently generated contemporary mirrors of affirmation for a historically unseen and underserved community.
While Mac Folkes and Peggy Kurka both work in the field of fashion and beauty creation,their stories differ with regards to their relationship with Blackness: he coming of age in the post-civil rights era of “Black is Beautiful” in New York City; and she of Afro-German descent in the socialist East Berlin. During their talk at the Gropius Bau they compare and contrast living within and without the void of Black visibility in the media and cultural landscapes.