Arts + Culture

Cultivating Crosscurrents: African And Black Diasporas In Dialogue (1960-1980) At MoAD

Cultivating Crosscurrents: African And Black Diasporas In Dialogue (1960-1980) is now on display at San Francisco's MOAD (Museum of the African Diaspora).

Barbara Jones-Hogu, Unite, 1971, photo via Omni Afrikan

Cultivating Crosscurrents: Africa and Black Diasporas in Dialogue, 1960-1980, at San Francisco's Museum of the African Diaspora focuses on the cross-cultural influences that inspired the black liberation movements of the 20th century and its impact on arts, culture and politics throughout the diaspora. The exhibition displays an extensive array of artworks, memorabilia, and documents, which together create a dialogue between African Identity and the African Diaspora by exploring the international liberatory struggles of the African people, and illuminating its impact on 20th century arts and culture.

Photo via Continuo

Crosscurrents begins with a series of memorabilia from the Civil Rights movement, the Black Panther Party, and various other international Black Solidarity movements. A looped video plays a series of snapshots from the First World Festival of Negro Arts, while Senegalese President Léopold Sédar Senghor's opening speech plays in the background. The festival, held in Dakar in April of 1966, was one of the earliest gatherings aimed at bringing together the arts in order to celebrate both the African Diaspora and Black Arts Movement through Pan-African notions. In his speech, Senghor calls for a re-invention of traditional African arts, culture, and politics– all of which are represented in the corresponding posters, plaques, and buttons.

Seydou Keita, Untitled 1952/1955

The rest of the exhibition is dedicated to works by black diasporan artists, including Mali's Seydou Keita, who remains acclaimed for capturing images of Bamako locals in order to provide them with a record of their lives, rather than simply capturing identity. Keita’s unique aesthetic sees subjects choosing their dress and placing themselves in a stance of their choice. New York legend David Hammons uses ordinary objects and refuse to create an aesthetic of his own. In The Door (admissions office) (1969), Hammons comments on the 1960s struggle within the African American community to receive higher education. In the piece, Hammons has transformed an ordinary admissions door into a political statement by imprinting an abstract human form onto the glass. The imprint remains trapped on the outside of the door, struggling to get through.

Crosscurrents creates a cohesive international black arts exhibition, one which illuminates the cross-cultural influences that impact the Civil Rights era along with other Black Power and Arts movements internationally. The degree to which these movements really are international becomes tangible as each artist utilizes their own concepts of history, identity, and culture to define what Africa means to them, on their own terms.

Cultivating Crosscurrents: African and Black Diasporas in Dialogue, 1960-1980, is on display at MoAD, San Francisco, through April 13th.

*note: not all of the above pieces are featured in the exhibition.

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