A groundswell of complex events around the globe have made discussion surrounding the Western Eurocentric, often prejudiced notion of »Blackness« even more relevant and controversial in recent years. Social conflicts in Western societies that were long thought to have been overcome — such as those in the United States, for example — have sparked new awareness among members of the Black community and simultaneously brought the idea of a global, polyphonic Black culture (the »Black Atlantic«) to the fore. Coined in the mid-1990s by British sociologist Paul Gilroy, the term »Black Atlantic« advances the idea of a “Black consciousness” that continually absorbs and modifies elements of white Western society even as it bears the heavy legacy of slavery. These ongoing intercultural processes have given rise to new, unique forms of Black cultural expression. Coming to terms with one’s own cultural heritage at pace with the times is also reflected in the work of a young generation of artists who have adopted this new (self-)perception of Black people.
The works of invited artists Sandra Mujinga (b. 1989, Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo), Paulo Nazareth (b. 1977, Governador Valadares, Brazil), Tschabalala Self (b. 1990, New York City, USA) and Kemang Wa Lehulere (b. 1984, Cape Town, South Africa) grapple with aspects of gender, skin color, descent and sexual orientation in their respective home countries. At the same time, they themselves act as direct agents in and witnesses to changing societal views of the Black community.