San Francisco

Question Bridge: Black Males in America

Today we bring you an excerpt from Art Practical’s Printed Matters columnRoula Seikaly reviews Question Bridge: Black Males in America, the published companion to a project, platform, and installation that regards identity and representation. Seikaly notes, “Asking a question […] can be difficult; it can imply lack of knowledge and experience, rendering the asker vulnerable. No one wants to be caught out, least of all when the questions address identity, community, and most urgently, survival.” This article was originally published on February 16, 2016.

Question Bridge: Black Males in America (Aperture/Campaign for Black Male Achievement, 2015)

Question Bridge: Black Males in America (Aperture/Campaign for Black Male Achievement, 2015).

Question Bridge: Black Males in America, a companion publication to the innovative, crowd-funded multimedia installation of the same name, opens with a quote from a speech delivered by Frederick Douglass commemorating the twenty-fourth anniversary of slavery’s abolition. Though drawn from a longer quote, the passage above speaks as urgently to 21st-century audiences as it did to those of the 19th century, and perhaps more so. As long as Black Americans are denied basic human rights and dignities, as long as state-sanctioned violence against Black bodies is condoned, we must not take shelter in relative definitions of “safety.”

It’s against such hard truth that this compact volume unfolds. Question Bridge is a continuation of a mid-’90s project initiated by artist and educator Chris Johnson, who teaches photography at California College of the Arts (CCA). For the project’s original iteration, Johnson asked African Americans from different socioeconomic backgrounds to sit before a camera and to pose questions to other African Americans outside of their cultural milieu. Johnson hoped this frank exchange could address the widening chasm between African Americans in disparate social classes.

Read the full article here.