Wax, black soap, vinyl, space rock, wood, and shea butter
121.92 x 182.88 x 24.77 cm
When I was younger, I would see shea butter being sold on the street, and I was interested in how people were still coating themselves in the theatre of Africanism. – Rashid Johnson
The hopes, dreams and experiences of individuals from the Diaspora are referenced through the process of making Johnson’s artwork. The Middle Passage become a bridge between the heritage and traditions of African culture and the hybridity of the African American experience. Music and performance are crucial to his process, evident by the display of the vinyl record Ramsey Lewis’s album Sun Goddess, created in the wake of Sun Ra’s experimental jazz music inspired by mystical beliefs and a connection to traditional music. The use of gold alludes to the wealth of West Africa’s ancient civilisations ravaged by colonialism and the Atlantic Slave Trade. Johnson’s exploration of personal, racial and cultural identity is communicated through a unique fusion of historical and material references, contemporary African America art as a vehicle of storytelling and the suggestion of transcending into an ideal future.