Sunday, June 11, 2006

Coming Soon: Code Z + MLK papers @ Sotheby's + Kevin Aviance attacked in NYC

Code Z: Black Visual Culture Now. Click Here :COMING SOON
At last artist/innovator Cinqué Hicks and crew are launching Hick's upgrade of his previous art site Electric Skin. No fear if you have the old Electric Skin link, it forwards directly to CodeZonline.com. I mentioned this new site in an entry on Art Bloggers in ATL. Code Z's creators describes the site is as follows:

Code Z will be more than just a lively art news source. With community forums, feedback opportunities, and artists' works, Code Z will be an unparalleled network of black visual creators at the forefront of shaping our culture and our world.

As black artists, many of us have been pushing up against the boundaries of art for many years. We have felt the yawning absence of a forum such as this.

We know you've been pushing, too. Let's push together.
Sounds pretty exciting, no? You can get a taste of the site before its official August launch, by clicking on this image, or the one above: Code Z: Black Visual Culture Now. Click Here


MLK, Jr. Papers
j.'s theater notes that the Martin Luther King Papers are going to be auctioned at Sotheby's. The collection, to be offered as a single lot, has an estimated value of $30 million. The late Coretta Scott King had hoped that the papers would go to an institution, presumably with a public access/education program. Hopefully, as j. notes, the papers will be purchased and donated to such an institution by a history-minded philanthropist.
(pictured: a telegram inviting Dr. King, Jr. to the signing of the 1965 Voting Rights Act at the US Capitol)

*Update 6/13/06 this 6/9/06 Atlanta Journal Constition article gives further details on the June 30th auction.


Attack on Kevin Aviance and the valuation of black queer lives
Also on j.'s theatre: New York-based black drag performer and singer Kevin Aviance was attacked in the East Village while walking to his home in Chelsea. His jaw was broken. Aviance recalls 6 or 7 young men approaching him shouting anti-gay slurs, they began beating him and threatened to kill him. Although the attacked occured on a crowded street, no one came to his aid until after Aviance had passed out and the beating had stopped. Three males, ages 20, 20, and 16, were arrested in connection with the attack and charged with first degree assault. Aviance was scheduled to perform in next week's NYC Gay Pride Festivities, but his injuries will prevent this. One indecipherable aspect of the attack: the young men kept repeating "You're not diesel," as they beat Aviance. Aviance is well-known for his live performances and his Billboard dance chart topping hits, 1997's remake of '80s hit, "Din Da Da," and 2000's, "Alive".

Rod 2.0 recently had a post dealing with public response (both gay and straight) to former B2K singer, Raz B., playing a gay character with HIV on queer cable station LOGO's prime time black soap, Noah's Arc. Raz B. (pictured right) wanted to help raise consciousness about the impact of HIV among African Americans. Unfortunately there was so much traffic, over 400 comments, mostly negative, that Concrete Loop, where the piece was located, had to close the comments section. The stridently hostile nature of some of these comments make clear how little value some imagine black queer lives to hold (either: 1) come out of the closet already or you're worthless; or 2) stay in the closet/straight or you're worthless; or 3) support black gays and lesbians?--why would any straight black male do that unless he's gay--and thus worthless?). These attitudes are certainly at least in part to the moral grandstanding over "family values" and marriage legislation meant to distract the public from issues such as health care, social security, education, and defense and security policies. To the extent that they've been taken up by the African American religious leadership they are arguably a manner in which to reinstate the power and relevance of that leadership, as well as create a "strawman" an identifiable scapegoat for some of the social ills faced by the African American family. But lives are at stake. What is the intent, to revive Dred Scott-decision notions of equivocal humanity among African Americans? I am wishing a speedy recovery to Mr. Aviance and all others who may have experienced similar violence--statistics bear out he was not the only survivor of hate crime violence this weekend, just perhaps the only one given space in the New York Times.

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