Black Power (center panel), 2010
Salon 94 is pleased to present an excerpt of Black Power, a video installation by Lyle Ashton Harris on the video wall.
Taking its title from the seminal 1954 essay by African-American author and cultural critic Richard Wright, Black Power, 2010, a three-channel work depicting physical training at an outdoor neighborhood gym in Accra. The gym was frequented by a former partner - also featured in the video - who facilitated the artist’s entry into this intimate milieu otherwise accessible only to locals. This serves as a backdrop to Untitled (Black Power), in the frame the amateur bodybuilders engage in unselfconsciously performative rituals, individually intent on achieving some embodiment of a physical ideal through repetitive training. Refusing to occlude his own investment in the erotic capacity of the black male form, the artist’s lens critically engages with the complex dynamics of desire and homosocial interaction expressed through the individuals’ rhythmic movements and virile bearing. The work also comments on cultural hybridity, the bodybuilders’ focused exertions becoming corporeal evidence of the construction of transnational masculinities.