Skin + Masks, Decolonizing Art Beyond the Politics of Visibility

Opening: Saturday, Jun 18, 2022 5 – 9 pm
Saturday, Jun 18 – Sep 3, 2022

219 N. Elizabeth St.
Chicago, IL 60607

Guest curated by Vic Mensa 

Antilles-born author Frantz Fanon wrote brilliantly about the ways that the barriers of race impede our ability to experience humanity. Published in 1952, his book "Black Skin, White Masks" is a psychoanalytical tour-de-force, exposing how colonization weaponized skin as an agent of alienation, imposing an existential deviation on man, black and white.

“The White man is sealed in his whiteness,” Fanon Writes. “The Black man in his blackness.” 

The supremacy assumed and projected by the European, colonial White gaze causes Black people to experience what Fanon calls “an amputation, an excision, a hemorrhage” that separates them from the development of an individuated self image. This prevents Black people and White people alike from experiencing anything close to true freedom.

“I believe that the fact of the juxtaposition of the White and Black races has created a massive psychoexistential complex,” Fanon writes. “I hope by analyzing it to destroy it.”

For his curatorial debut with Kavi Gupta, Vic Mensa—rapper, activist, and Founder of the non-profit Save Money Save Life—deploys Fanon’s seminal text as a foundation for a group art exhibition aimed at decolonizing Black art beyond the politics of visibility, by spotlighting dis-alienated representations of identity.

Entitled Skin + Masks, the exhibition centers contemporary artists who, like Fanon, are striving to understand and express the meaning of black identity not from the vantage point of White gaze, but from the perspective of individual reality.


Images: Nikko Washington, "Swing On 'Em," 2021. Oil and on canvas, 60" x 48" inches.