Under the glass ceiling of the pavilion, the colorful stage lights clashed with the dark night sky to give the illusion of an underwater party. Then all of a sudden came the sound of several live instruments creating an incredible fusion that called everyone to stand at attention. Game Rebellion had taken the stage, starting the show with a powerful dose of conscious messages wrapped up in the sounds of metal, punk and hip hop music. Also with them, a selection of exotic models clad with peekaboo ensembles, decorative metal and dark shades, dancing through the audience and igniting the excitement of the night ahead. It was after all the first Saturday of February. And for all those who were there, we knew that the Brooklyn Museum on Eastern Parkway was where it was about to go down.
Every first Saturday of the month, the museum presents a free public event sponsored by Target. As explained by Elizabeth Callahan, Manager of Adult Programs, the purpose of these events are to “Highlight a new or current exhibition and creatively program an entry point.” Translation:instead of asking visitors to walk through a gallery of white walls and portraits, the staff finds a compelling and engaging way to introduce the art and its overall concept. Local performing artists are invited to help showcase the exhibit creatively, interpreting the concepts through song and even dance. This month’s highlight exhibit was Question Bridge: Black Males.
Question Bridge: Black Males is the collaborative work of four artists traveling through the United States over several years, to interview 150 men of color. The result is an original video installation of about 1,500 conversations, edited to create a dialogue of issues in respects to Black Males in America, including love, sex, family and community. In the dimly lit mezzanine floor, there are a series of drop screens fading close-up shots of these men as audio of their voices play in sync. The walls are dark with white writing illuminated by small studio lights, some displaying powerful quotes by the likes of W.E.B Du Bois. Through this exhibition, the questions surrounding the Black male identity are presented on a safe platform, to be openly viewed and discussed.
Throughout the night, there were panel discussions, education galleries and pop-up selections by Renegade Performance Group that presented dance pieces in accordance to certain questions raised in the featured exhibit. Also performing that night, was Haitian American Violinist and composer Daniel Bernard Roumain who played a selection from his album Symphony for the Dance Floor – a series of classic violin sounds to electrifying beats spun by Lord Jamar.
Upstairs in the Beaux-Arts Court, The Brooklyn Circus took to the runway as a few sexy models showcased the lines classic vintage look complete with crisp varsity sweaters, classically tailored denim and woven panel hats. Soon after, hundreds of people gathered under the barely visible lights of a giant chandelier to dance until closing, as DJ Stormin’ Norman played music by some of the greatest African American males and males groups including James Brown and Michael Jackson.
The night ended with a gridlock of partiers slowly making their way downstairs to do some last minute socializing and networking. Putting my back to the wall, as I always do, I tried to summarize the entire feel of the night. But amidst the activities, the only thing really running through my mind was the faces and voices of the men in the installation. And looking through the crowd at the faces of another group of Black men with stories, concepts and views of their own I understood the importance of Question Bridge. It isn’t meant to summarize the Black Male – that’s impossible. It instead connects the limitless faces, possibilities, stories, issues and views of them all under one title. So when the question is again posed, the answer will come from every Black Male in America….regardless of the story.
Check out Next First Saturday Event at the Brooklyn Museum: http://www.brooklynmuseum.org/visit/first_saturdays.php