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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Farther Where Art Thou: The Depletion of a National Resource at Blanc

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My first visit to Blanc, on S Martin Luther King Dr was for the photography of Bryant Johnson. If it is true that nobody reads artist statements at an art opening, Bryant is lucky to say the least. His show, Farther Where Art Thou: The Depletion of a National Resource was, as you might guess, topical to say the least. He was using the ever-present push to live green as a way to address the treatment of black males in Chicago, possibly the United States. Bryant's statement rambled on about how everyone is working at living green while there is a natural resource that is going untapped, namely the black male. Unfortunately it was unclear in the photographs, close up head shots of middle aged black males, how the connection was being made.

His photographs, which I found out from talking with Bryant, were of homeless men he had encountered in Chicago. These were printed on what I would consider to be cheap paper, then mounted with wheat paste on a shallow metal sheet or a wood backing with black frame. Bryant's approach to displaying his work may have been lacking only in an explanation. His photos were powerful, referencing iconic images of black men like Martin Luther King, Rev. Al Green, and Sonny Stitt. Making images like this and treating them like street posters is absolutely no mistake and as intriguing as the show was, I couldn't help but think the statement and the message of living green confused the point that every man is a son and every father is a hero.

Blanc is open Weds through Fri 11am-3pm and Sat by appointment only, and is located in Bronzeville at 4445 S. Martin Luther King Drive. Check out this show and let me know what you think.

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