Against a hot take. There is a way in which maybe the condition of blackness resists the hot take /// is itself a series of hot takes, massaging the same content for new perspectives continuously. The Lemonade question isn’t one of innovation, but of articulation and i feel this way when i think of much of our production. Of course there is the new, but underneath it there is almost always the old. Time crumbles under our gaze. 

 

I went to see the David Hammons show in NYC a few weeks ago - pre-Prince’s death, pre-Lemonade. I went with friends, and as we entered the room with the big chandelier basketball hoop, one friend - also Black - whispered to me: “black magic.” This was, in fact, the exact feeling of Hammons’ exhibition. There was dark energy vibrating between objects - I guess tension, like I could trip a wire. My face felt hot the whole time. This all sounds irrational and flowery, but I have to stress that I’m rarely moved by artworks - and still I wouldn’t even call this feeling “moving” or movement of any sort. It felt more like being fixed for a moment. 

 

 

The Black Magic that runs through the Hammons exhibition is similar to if not the very same as the magic that runs through Lemonade. In Beyonce’s case, there is an impulse to deem it #blackgirlmagic, but I can’t fully vibe with that. The magic is something darker, something that surpasses and/or undermines that language. I guess what I’m thinking about is this thing that happens when black people make things - yes, I’ll speak in generalized terms - which is that time and space bend and fold, stretching and twisting out of shape. And I guess what it also feels like is something brewing and spinning, in both cases - Hammons and Lemonade - my cheeks hot and breath short from the speed of it. 

 

We bounce bruised, confused, and triumphant from plantation to city; from the top of a building to underwater, underground. We float in and out of a time that none of us watching actually know except through images, texts and the occasional chill that runs bone-deep.  

 

I keep thinking about two of the works in Hammons’ show as I think about Lemonade.  (and I do wonder if I’m just trying to force two things I like very much into the same conceptual space but…). There is one work that is this upright ring of glass bottles, all clear and greenish-blue. And I’d never seen this one before but it made me think of this blue bottle collection my mom always kept above the sink in the house i grew up in, and how I learned that my grandma had an even bigger collection back in Queens, and how I became obsessed with this and later learned about bottle trees and blue in the American South. All of these objects spinning in some orbit together, on a timeline seemingly separate from and unaware of one another.

 

And the other work is this huge gilded mirror with metal plates tacked clumsily over the glass such that I can pretty much only see my feet. I can’t look at myself directly - maybe if I lie on the floor? Looking at it my immediate question is: what does a white viewer feel looking at this? I’m feeling the denial of an opportunity to look ourselves in the face - sometimes mediated, sometimes fully blocked - at times ushered toward abstraction, forced into subtextual communication with ourselves/one another. 

 

And then here we have Beyoncé who for so long has perhaps abstractly ‘represented’ her own black womanhood. You know, presenting it as this sort of beautiful open work, allowing audiences to graft their experience onto it. Like back in the day, her self-affirmation was wholly translatable. But Lemonade is a brutally representative work. 

 

Hammons and Beyoncé converge and she scales the mirror and rips off the metal plates.

b͓̽e͓̽s͓̽t͓̽ ͓̽v͓̽i͓̽e͓̽w͓̽e͓̽d͓̽ ͓̽i͓̽n͓̽ ͓̽l͓̽a͓̽n͓̽d͓̽s͓̽c͓̽a͓̽p͓̽e͓̽
͓̽o͓̽r͓̽ ͓̽o͓̽n͓̽ ͓̽a͓̽ ͓̽d͓̽e͓̽s͓̽k͓̽t͓̽o͓̽p͓̽

{ 𝔱𝔥𝔢 𝔬𝔫𝔩𝔶 𝔯𝔢𝔞𝔰𝔬𝔫 𝔗𝔥𝔢 𝔚𝔥𝔦𝔱𝔢 𝔓𝔲𝔟𝔢 𝔠𝔞𝔫 𝔰𝔱𝔦𝔩𝔩 𝔢𝔵𝔦𝔰𝔱 𝔦𝔰 𝔟𝔢𝔠𝔞𝔲𝔰𝔢 𝔰𝔬𝔪𝔢 𝔬𝔣 𝔬𝔲𝔯 𝔯𝔢𝔞𝔡𝔢𝔯𝔰 𝔠𝔥𝔬𝔬𝔰𝔢 𝔱𝔬 𝔰𝔲𝔭𝔭𝔬𝔯𝔱 𝔲𝔰 𝔢𝔞𝔠𝔥 𝔪𝔬𝔫𝔱𝔥 𝔳𝔦𝔞 𝔓𝔞𝔱𝔯𝔢𝔬𝔫. 𝔚𝔢 𝔰𝔬𝔪𝔢𝔱𝔦𝔪𝔢𝔰 𝔡𝔬 𝔱𝔞𝔩𝔨𝔰 𝔞𝔫𝔡 𝔬𝔱𝔥𝔢𝔯 𝔧𝔬𝔟𝔰 𝔟𝔲𝔱 𝔓𝔞𝔱𝔯𝔢𝔬𝔫 𝔦𝔰 𝔥𝔬𝔴 𝔴𝔢 𝔤𝔢𝔱 𝔭𝔞𝔦𝔡 𝔣𝔬𝔯 𝔱𝔥𝔢 𝔞𝔠𝔱𝔲𝔞𝔩 𝔴𝔯𝔦𝔱𝔦𝔫𝔤 𝔥𝔢𝔯𝔢 - 𝔱𝔥𝔢 𝔯𝔢𝔳𝔦𝔢𝔴𝔰 𝔫 𝔞𝔯𝔱 𝔱𝔥𝔬𝔲𝔤𝔥𝔱𝔰 𝔞𝔫𝔡 𝔰𝔬 𝔬𝔫. 𝔄𝔫𝔡 𝔦𝔱'𝔰 𝔰𝔬 𝔦𝔪𝔭𝔬𝔯𝔱𝔞𝔫𝔱 𝔱𝔬 𝔲𝔰 2 𝔱𝔥𝔞𝔱 𝔴𝔢 𝔠𝔞𝔫 𝔰𝔱𝔞𝔶 𝔦𝔫𝔡𝔢𝔭𝔢𝔫𝔡𝔢𝔫𝔱 𝔠𝔯𝔦𝔱𝔦𝔠𝔰 𝔴𝔦𝔱𝔥𝔬𝔲𝔱 𝔱𝔦𝔢𝔰 𝔱𝔬 𝔟𝔦𝔤 𝔣𝔲𝔫𝔡𝔢𝔯𝔰 𝔬𝔯 𝔦𝔫𝔰𝔱𝔦𝔱𝔲𝔱𝔦𝔬𝔫𝔰, 𝔭𝔲𝔟𝔩𝔦𝔠 𝔬𝔯 𝔭𝔯𝔦𝔳𝔞𝔱𝔢. 𝔗𝔥𝔞𝔫𝔨 𝔶𝔬𝔲 𝔣𝔬𝔯 𝔟𝔢𝔦𝔫𝔤 𝔬𝔲𝔯 𝔬𝔩𝔡 𝔱𝔦𝔪𝔢𝔶 𝔭𝔞𝔱𝔯𝔬𝔫𝔰 - 𝔴𝔢'𝔩𝔩 𝔡𝔬 𝔬𝔲𝔯 𝔟𝔢𝔰𝔱 𝔱𝔬 𝔭𝔯𝔬𝔡𝔲𝔠𝔢 𝔮𝔲𝔞𝔩𝔦𝔱𝔶 𝔬𝔲𝔱𝔭𝔲𝔱; 𝔴𝔯𝔦𝔱𝔢 𝔰𝔱𝔲𝔣𝔣 𝔱𝔥𝔞𝔱 𝔦𝔰 𝔱𝔥𝔬𝔲𝔤𝔥𝔱𝔣𝔲𝔩 𝔞𝔫𝔡 𝔰𝔦𝔫𝔠𝔢𝔯𝔢. }

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