Blue/Black is a new commission by the Pulitzer Arts Foundation in St. Louis guest curated by American conceptual artist, Glenn Ligon. Exploring notions of race and identity through a vast range of art forms, from “outsider art” to painting and experimental film.
Ligon is a pioneer in exploring the complexities of race and identity in his work. As Pulitzer Arts Foundation Director Cara Starke says, “In his work, Glenn Ligon brilliantly and subtly plumbs the overlapping complexities of American history, race, language, identity, and art.” In this exhibition Ligon applies this eye to his curatorial practice, bringing together a myriad of works in which the use of these colours continue to provoke ideas around these themes through a myriad of different artists and their work.
Highlights include the arresting photograph of a young African American child looking into the camera bathed in blue light by Carrie Mae Weems. Blue Black Boy (1997) comes from the artists “Coloured People” series, in which she applies coloured overlays to photographs of African American children and in doing so posing questions about how we use colour to categorize people.
Ligon’s own haunting work A Small Band (2015) that comprises the words “blue,” “blood,” and “bruise” in black-coated neon inspired by the testimony of Daniel Hamm – a member of a group of young black men from Harlem who were wrongly accused of minor infraction. Speaking to Ligon about the brutality he faced when he was detained by the police during the short time before he was released. A month later Hamm was wrongly accused of murder and spent ten years in jail before he was released after re-trial – which forms the basis of Ligon’s work, A Small Band.