A new exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum in New York looks at the horrific legacy of lynching from an alternative perspective; from the viewpoint of the survivors and victims.
When slavery was formally abolished in 1865, lynching emerged, where mobs would take the law into their own hands by carrying out the public execution of someone who had been accused of committing a crime, whether they were guilty or not. This was part of the persecution of African Americans in the nineteenth century and that they still endure today.
The exhibition consists of works from black American artists that explore this topic through emotional testimonials and powerful imagery that avoids photographs or illustrations that show explicit bodily violence, focusing more on the fight for black civil rights and the terror of white supremacy.
Featuring artists Sanford Biggers, who has work around the topics of hip hop and politics, Kara Walker who works in black and white to tackle the issue of African American identity and Rashid Johnson who uses everyday objects including shea butter to explore racial and cultural identity, among others. Lynching forced millions of black people to flee the American south as refugees and exiles and relates to the police brutality directed towards black people today.
Created in collaboration with the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) and Google, the exhibition will also reveal EJI’s plans to open The Memorial to Peace and Justice, a national monument that will open in 2018 in Montgomery, Alabama to commemorate victims of racial terror lynching – finally! They also plan on creating a museum called From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration that will explore the legacy of slavery, segregation, and mass incarceration.
Art can have a powerful political and historical voice. The exhibition will run until September 3rd, 2017.