I Am Every Man Project
Many artists are utterly stuck in the safe confines of their studio and the artist community and aren’t always aware of the state of the atmosphere within their own city. The "Artist" is utterly at the mercy of the Bourgeois ruling class. "They" are part of the ruling class, the same ruling class that helped to build the Industrial Revolution which in return left many of the masses with no jobs and a global ecological crisis in which we will suffer the most. The same ruling class that openly wrote in to law that black people were three fifths of a person, the same ruling class that openly believed in Jim Crow. When a neighborhood is gentrified, often it's the hard working families that are pushed out through rent hikes, business tax hikes, and property tax hikes while Galleries, and hipster restaurants move in. When the Los Angeles County Metro cut more than one million hours of bus service raised the bus fares on a Black and Latino population that could barley afford the bus fare as it was, and then implemented Measure R, which took tax payer's dollars and gave it to rich contractors who pocketed more than half of it, and then turned around and built overtly expensive rail lines that hardly anyone rides that have been used to gentrify South LA and East LA, The Los Angeles County Museum of Art endorsed them. Artists and their institutions are often times working against working class and poor Black and Latino people. And many more artists are afraid of making work about real life concepts. Through their unrelenting ambition, they become one with the bourgeois, thus becoming their messengers. There is always a push to make art more "Sophisticated". The Post-Modernist move toward abstraction lead by Jackson Pollock’s paint drips on canvas is a clear example of this. Abstraction, and the need to constantly avoid bringing up a conversation about the inevitable. They are the Privatizing, Policing, Polluting class, that is constantly looking to diversify in order to not look as bad as the white southern racists of the 1960's, 1970's, 1980's and earlier.
No matter how much acceptance has been allowed for "gay" marriage in
Los Angeles, no matter how much West Hollywood aka boystown has been accepted as normal on the Westside and in artist communities, and no matter how many more white gay men are seen in the media either clothed or semi-nude; the fact still remains that the Black male body, the Black Gender-queer Body, the Black Transgendered Body still raises prominent social questions, especially when that body isn’t represented in the typical fashion that "everyone" expects. Forms of oppression and repression still exist. No, we're not told that we are to walk on the side walk when a white man passes and face downward, and enter buildings from the rear because of our skin color, etc; but our physical bodies are a rare site on national television, unless they are being criminalized, or killed, and our Ideas are far less likely to make it on the big screen. if there's one thing you should understand about visual culture, it's that television is the main organizing tool of the system. While I don't give a damn about being famous, the fact remians that what is on the big screen is what influences the vast majority of people in this country. If television is their big magical mass organizing tool, then what is our big organizing tool.
I originally created the I Am Every Man Project for my own sanity and survival. In a world where white women clutch their purses and/or their man as I walk by, where people literally lock their car doors as I'm crossing the street minding my own business, where I'm follwed around the store, and followed around almost all white neighborhoods by police who want to make sure that Black people feel unwelcomed, I needed to be my own role model, or rather I needed to create a role model that actually fit my personality. The fact is that many Black young men in general, and many more young Black Queer men often times are just barley surviving. Most times we go un-noticed except when we make a spalsh in the forbidden world of whiteness. Many of us much of the time have to struggle with feeling invisible, unwanted, uneeded, and not at all beautiful. As you'll see in this series I'm playing with many aspects of my Blackness, my gender, and my sexuality. This project combats the over arching view held by many people either consciously or unconsciously that Black men are monolithic people that only need to be dealt with and not at all engaged. I’m interested in using myself as a tool to create conversation, if not contradiction of the system that is racist, sexist, transphobic, homophobic, and anit-Black. A system that many people both consciously and unconsciously support.
Years later I look back on this project with great admiration of where I was at in my life, how much guts I must have had to present this work as one of only five Black men in the 2013 undergraduate Fine Arts graduating class.