Newsome is an artist who pulls intuitively from the world of advertising, the Internet, Black and Queer culture to craft compositions that walk the tightrope between intersectionality, social practice, and abstraction. He is also heavily inspired by Harlem's queer ballroom scene.
To Be Real is an exhibition environment which takes its name from Cheryl Lynn's 1977 queer anthem featuring collage, sculpture and the interactive AI 'Being.' It presents a series of neo-Cubist portraits in expressive frames, threading an ornamental glamour through figures reflecting on human agency, Blackness, and the radical futurity of emerging identities. These works bear witness to Ansista, a 3D figure suspended in a Vogue dance dip. Ansista combines a non-binary, African mahogany torso with a face inspired by the female Pho mask of the Chokwe peoples in Congo. The figure is additionally queered through contemporary assemblage: a lower body cut from a life-like sex doll, outfitted in drag padding; a custom wig, acrylic nails, and high heel boots; and a dress form that fuses traditional African and drag ballroom aesthetics. Together, the collaged and sculptural figures draw from queer, Black, and ballroom life itself, pointing to the future utopias that these lives represent and inspire.
At the conceptual center of To Be Real, is Newsome's "child," Being. The cloud-based, A.I. being's programming has been populated with the works of radical authors, revolutionaries, and theorists such as Paulo Freire, Michel Foucault, bell hooks, and Janet Mock, among others. Housed apart from the main exhibition space in its own gallery, Being acts as the critical heart or brain of the exhibition, exploring ideas about individual agency and historical oppression.
And more about the Newsome videos at MoAD that overlap with the Ft Mason show here: https://www.moadsf.org/exhibition/rashaad-newsome-stop-playing-in-my-face-and-icon/
Newsome is an artist who pulls intuitively from the world of advertising, the Internet, Black and Queer culture to craft compositions that walk the tightrope between intersectionality, social practice, and abstraction. He is also heavily inspired by Harlem's queer ballroom scene....