Combining urban culture with art historical references, Rashaad Newsome’s ICON uses the motif of a Cuban link chain to re-create the architecture of the choir vault at Lincoln’s Cathedral in London as a digital space where dancers interact. Newsome’s video practice is a continuation of his research on and long-standing engagement with African American and Latino LGBTQ communities, in particular vogue performance, a vernacular, underground dance form inspired by the angular fashion poses in Vogue magazine that originated in the Harlem ballroom scene of the 1960s. In these balls, participants belonging to different houses “walk” to compete for prizes and are judged for their “realness”—their ability to pass as a certain gender or social class. As a choreographer, participant, and member of the voguing community, Newsome takes a particular interest in vogue femme, exploring its five movements—catwalk, duckwalk, hands, floorwork, and spins and dips—as a form of cultural production. An ever-evolving dance form that has now acquired global status through social media, voguing is an affirmation of difference and resistance, and a celebration of life by LGBTQ communities against oppression, violence, and marginalization.
Rashaad Newsome is a multidisciplinary artist whose work blends collage, sculpture, video, music, computer programming, and performance. Best known for his visually stunning collages housed in custom frames, Newsome is deeply invested in how images used in media and popular culture communicate distorted notions of power. Using the equalizing force of sampling, he crafts compositions that surprise in their associative potential and walk a tightrope between intersectionality, social practice, and abstraction.
In a time of embedded lives and networked culture, where the screen acts as a mediator between the self and perceived reality, technology has ostensibly become an extension of the body, changing our relationship to space, ourselves, and others. Digital Bodies is a one-year program that features videos by artists who use and manipulate digital technologies—mainly computer-generated images, signs, and systems sourced from digital platforms—to reflect on how these technologies have impacted our everyday lives and changed the ways we relate to the world. Given our current state of constant digital expansion and acceleration, these works express the pervasiveness and indispensability of digital culture in shaping our daily interactions.
Digital Bodies is organized by the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University and curated by Carla Acevedo-Yates and Steven L. Bridges, Assistant Curators. Support for this exhibition is provided by the Alan and Rebecca Ross endowed exhibitions fund and the MSU Broad’s general exhibitions fund.