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Who Among Us… The Art of Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle at the Museum of the African Diaspora

Today from our partners at Art Practical, we bring you Matthew Harrison Tedford’s review of Who Among Us… The Art of Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle at the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco. The author notes, “[…] I came to see the entire exhibition as Kentifrica—not just an imaginary place, but a dream, a revision, or a projection of a continent that could have been or that still may become.” This article was originally published on March 1, 2016.

Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle. The Sower, 2015; India ink, acrylic paint, and polyfilm on wood panel; 11 x 14 in. Courtesy of Jenkins Johnson Gallery and the Artist.

Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle. The Sower, 2015; india ink, acrylic paint, and polyfilm on wood panel; 11 x 14 in. Courtesy of Jenkins Johnson Gallery and the Artist.

In the early decades of photography, many Europeans and European Americans employed the nascent technology in conquered lands across the planet to document colonial subjects. These images became historical records, though they were often inscribed with colonial fantasies—subjects were presented as dwelling in prehistory or dressed in attire from cultures that were not their own. This approach to both ethnography and tourism has been widely critiqued, but the resulting documents persist, as do the worldviews built upon them.

Interdisciplinary artist Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle uses reproductions of these antique photographs as sources for one of three bodies of work in Who Among Us… The Art of Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle at the Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) in San Francisco. The Uninvited Series displays over a dozen black-and-white and sepia-tone photographs of African women on a single wall, each of which Hinkle has reclaimed with ink, paint, glitter, gouache, and collage.

Some of the pieces are kaleidoscopic interventions that adorn the figures with ornate headdresses, body armor, or auras. In The Transfiguration (2015), for example, the portrait of a woman is mostly obscured by a sea of pink protozoan blobs and a web of intricate ink drawings that wrap around her chin and protrude from her forehead. Hinkle gives the woman a regal and fantastical headdress and the power it connotes—if only retroactively, imaginatively. In The Huntress (2014), a woman wearing a barely perceptible smile faces the viewer. Spirals of ink radiate from one of her eyes, creating a mask that covers half of her face, stretching upward and outward. The mouth of a roaring tiger cut from a photograph rests between the woman’s bare breasts. The tiger’s defiant roar seems to represent emotions concealed by the subject’s sardonic smile—emotions she may not have been at liberty to display to the photographer.

Read the full article here.

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