Inspired by Frantz Fanon’s book Black Skin, White Masks, this work uses sculpture, installation, video-art, photography and performance to examine Black consciousness and self-image, as seen through my eldest son’s burgeoning Black manhood in a racist world, and my concerned maternal eyes. The trope is the syncretism of Catholicism and the Afro-Cuban religion, Palo.
AIN’T FUNNY CRUCIFIX SCULPTURE
AIN’T FUNNY VIDEOART
Ain’t Funny Videoart © 2014 by Lili Bernard
The youth (my eldest son Rafael) who is the subject of the video art piece — as well as of the related Nkisi crucifix sculpture and photography — asserts his Black masculinity while struggling with society’s attempt to label, dilute and destroy it. He navigates through the layers of his identity, combating racism and stereotypes — with his strength, diligence, resilience, joy, frustration, anger, compassion and vulnerability exposed.
The trope of this work (the syncretism, resulting from colonialism, of the African religion known as Palo in Cuba with Catholicism), is referenced by the Congolese Nkisi-like nail fetish watermelon and whitened face) and Catholicism (referenced by the Passion of Christ and the tabernacle). As stated in the beginning of the video, the work is dedicated to two women who were lynched along with their children: Mary Turner (1918 Georgia) who’s 8 month old fetus was gouged out of her belly and stomped to death by the mob as she hung upside down burnt and shot, and Laura Nelson (1919 Oklahoma) who was “swung” from a bridge alongside her 14 year old son L.D. Nelson, made famous by widely distributed souvenir postcards of their lynching.
AIN’T FUNNY PHOTOGRAPHY
(related digital photography to be exhibited along with the Ain’t Funny installation, but can be exhibited and sold separately)
AS AMERICAN AS CHERRY PIE
(a related sculpture to be exhibited along with the Ain’t Funny installation, but can be exhibited and sold separately)
“As American As Cherry Pie” is the sculpture of the KKK baby in the highchair and the accompanying digital work. Both are part of the “Ain’t Funny” installation. The work remembers the lynching of the pregnant Mary Turner and Laura Nelson and her son to whom the video art piece is dedicated. “As American as Cherry Pie,” is inspired by Black Panther H. Rap Brown’s famous quote: “Violence is as American as Cherry Pie.”
I created As American as Cherry Pie for the exhibition Rise: Love, Revolution and the Black Panther Party which ran in the Spring of 2014 at ArtShare LA. The work was widely reviewed. Here are links to the reviews:
(a related mixed media work to be exhibited along with the Ain’t Funny installation, but can be exhibited and sold separately)