Cultbytes: To Stay and Linger, ‘Tomashi Jackson Across the Universe’

To Stay and Linger, “Tomashi Jackson Across the Universe”

By Brittnay Proctor for Cultbytes

May 4, 2024

Spanning almost a decade of Tomashi Jackson’s career, Across the Universe is an inquiry into structural violence and subjection waged against black and indigenous communities—made possible America’s vision of democracy—but it is also an unrelenting insistence that the project of democracy cannot exist without us, whether deleterious for our people or not. This body of work epitomizes the importance of research-based art in a world that is becoming violently anti-intellectual; in a world increasingly invested in the disinformation and the manipulation of information. Jackson’s works help to fight the rising tide against those of us who bust our asses to survive in this world; who barely stand a chance against the logic of settler colonialism, racial capitalism, and ecocide.

There is no doubt that the histories that animate black life guide the traveling exhibition that brings together work that traverses the mediums of print, collage, painting, video, and sculpture—first on view at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver it is now open at Institute of Contemporary Art Philadelphia through June 2nd. The works are emblematic of Jackson’s adept usage of materials, which the artist noted, at the press preview, as “a weird resistance to the canvas on its own.” Mediums are not necessarily translated together, as much as tethered by a radical rejection of what defines a particular medium. For example, works like States’ Rights (Brown et al. v. The Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas)(Limited Value Exercise), 2017 soften the line between painting and sculpture. For Jackson, “a painting is a window into a world that does not exist.”


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