International Screen Series
Chris Johnson | Kamal Sinclair | Bayeté Ross Smith | Hank Willis Thomas
Question Bridge is a compelling video created by four American black male artists. Chris Johnson, Kamal Sinclair, Bayeté Ross Smith and Hank Willis Thomas collaborated to produce a powerful filmic work that reveals intimate and rarely documented conversations between black men living in contemporary America.
The process for creating this work involved several years of travel, with each of the artists criss-crossing the United States as they interviewed one hundred and fifty black men. The methodology of using interviewing processes in order to dismantle myths and misconceptions that have evolved around race and gender in America is immediately engaging and disturbing. Through the recording of questions and answers, the viewer is brought into very personal discussions in order to experience the spectrum of consciousness of black American men struggling for identity and belonging. For the four artists the process also meant that they variously assumed the roles of researcher and subject.
Hank Willis Thomas, an internationally acclaimed American conceptual artist, is best known for his photography and appropriation art that considers racial identity through the lens of advertising and popular culture. For Thomas, who is renowned for pushing the boundaries and challenging issues, the process of creating Question Bridge was especially poignant and painful, as it compelled him to confront and contextualise the death of his cousin, Songha Willis, outside a nightclub in February 2000.
For Thomas, this project brought into sharp focus questions around the intersection between advertising, race, and consumerism, including the huge divide between media images of strong black men, and the prevailing racial attitudes in a predominantly intolerant white American society.
Question Bridge addresses issues that have a particular relevance in the wake of the death of black American George Floyd, and the world-wide response of the Black Lives Matter campaign calling for social justice and racial equality for all.
Question Bridge: Black Males 2012
single channel video, sound, 2 hours 53 mins
17 Courtesy of the artists and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York