Back to THE HISTORY OF THE FUTUREFall 1999/ Winter 2000

Friday, January 14, 2000, Race:
William Pope. L, "Crawl"; Robbie McCauley, "Sally's Rape"; Pamela Sneed.

There was a performance moment in 1979 when the latent racism of the artworld was revealed. Artists Space (at the Fine Arts Building, 105 Hudson, at the time) mounted a show called "The Nigger Drawings," charcoal drawings by a white male artist. Howardena Pindell and Lucy Lippard organized a public protest, and the artworld gasped in shock and surprise that such a title might be offensive. Muttering ensued about how art was universal, but what really happened was that white male hegemony blinked.

Not long after this, black performance artist Lorraine O'Grady, in the guise of her guerrilla performance persona Mlle. Bourgeoise Noire, began to invade art openings, swinging a whip and shouting out poems that railed against an art world she perceived as not looking beyond a small circle of friends. The recent spate of news about Sally Hemmings, Thomas Jefferson's slave consort, was prefigured by Robbie McCauley's piece, "Sally's Rape." Now Robbie does real conflict resolution workshops in racially torn cities like Boston, pursuing performance art as an agent of social change.


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