School of Visual Arts: “Rodney McMillian Three Ways”

NYC School of Visual Arts alum Terence Trouillot analyzes Rodney McMillian’s three current shows:

“The Black Show at ICA in Philadelphia presents some of McMillian’s most exciting works to date: four videos, sculpture, painting, and a large wall installation made from black latex and paper.The exhibition title is almost laugh-out-loud explicit, yet profound in the way the artist deals with the notion of blackness through the introspective lens of his own psychological investigations. The work is not only political, but also philosophical, surreal, lyrical, abstract, and conceptual, bordering on sci-fi imagery reminiscent of the visions of the great writer, Octavia Butler. In the video Preacher Man(2015), the artist dressed in a suit walks into a field at night and sits in a chair reciting words from the musician Sun Ra. “When the US be talking about peace, they’re really talking about death” he says through the clatter of crickets in the ominous darkness. The feeling of disenchantment, with respect to American politics, is palpable, as the phrase duly notes that peace in the US is predicated on the obliteration or incarceration of black bodies, as if McMillian speaks from experience; as if he’s speaking to us from the grave.”

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