The project BLACKNESS IS, seeks to highlight and challenge nuanced ideas of Black identity through the presentation of questions and statements blended with landscape scenes of a desert, an environment known to be oppressive towards human life. Human ecology positions individual development in relationship to one’s environment and social context.
Without properly analyzing social context, our identities, however fluid, cannot fully be understood, appreciated, or celebrated. This is especially relevant for Blackness in the American context: with a past and present history of anti-Blackness, constantly and uniquely shifting presentation and manifestation over time, but remaining equally challenging to survive, much like the desert.
Many environments force individuals racialized as Black to engage in performative gestures, survival mechanisms, and to create/maintain spaces of fictive kinship in order to maintain optimal mental health. This project invites one to consider “How do our environments support or prohibit identity development and positive mental health, particularly within the Black American experience? How are our many intersections of identity relevant as our bodies change environments, or as our environments change our bodies?”
Featuring: Kevin Claiborne
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Kevin Claiborne (he/him, b. 1989, Washington, D.C.) is a multidisciplinary conceptual artist living and working in New York, and whose work examines and questions intersections of identity, environment, and mental health within the Black American experience.
Using photography as a foundation and language as material, Kevin views his art as weapon, and armor in the fight for liberation. He is a graduate of the historically Black college North Carolina Central University (2012), Syracuse University (2016), and is presently a MFA Visual Arts Candidate at Columbia University (2021).
ABOUT THE PARTNER
Photoville amplifies visual storytellers and connects them to a worldwide diverse audience through its free photo festival and year-round activation of public spaces and educational community programming.