Spotlight Series

Spotlight: ARTS.BLACK

This summer, Daily Serving is shining a light on some of the many arts publications that we admire, and this week we’re devoting our attention to ARTS.BLACK. Of todays selection, co-editors Taylor Renee and Jessica Lynne write, “A beautiful, poetic, and intimate epistle dedicated to Marlon Riggs, this is a text that must be read over and over again.” Serubiri Moses’ letter was originally published on August 5, 2016.

FAKA (Thato and Desire), photo courtesy of Elle South Africa

FAKA (Thato and Desire). Photo courtesy of Elle South Africa.

Dear Marlon,

I wanted to write to you, in light of your film work and the children who have paid it forward because I have come to consider the meaning of your thoughts about the representation of gay men in popular culture. Your film, Tongues Untied, continues to haunt the art and cinema landscape two decades later, with its showing of communal expression, (as you termed it), diversifying mainstream media, and denouncing homophobia.

Despite your warnings, I find myself drifting towards pop music, and popular cinema. I wonder if you were friends with Grace Jones, or if you watched any of her performances. In the James Bond film A View to a Kill, the crew cut she wore effortlessly set an unprecedented sense of gender neutrality in film and television.

I first heard Grace Jones in 1996, when her song Pull Up to the Bumper played on the radio. In the new wave of R&B boy bands, and dancehall, Jones stood out for her visual identity, her sense of style, and her lyrics, which paid homage to gay culture and its codifications.

I have since thought of Jones as embodying “signifying” or “snapping” in how you describe it in your writing as, “SNAP! “Got your point!” “SNAP!” “Don’t even try it!” “SNAP!” “You fierce!” “SNAP! Get out of my face!” “SNAP!” “Girlfriend, pleeeaase.” Not only did Grace Jones come from the fashion world that borrowed so much from the voguing scene, she “Snapped!” as a way of truth-telling, resisting misogyny and the fashion world’s tendency to objectify black women.

Continue reading the letter here.