July on -empyre-: Net Blackness with Mendi + Keith Obadike and damali ayo

Posted by Michael Arnold Mages | Sat Jul 5th 2003 3:46 a.m.

-empyre- takes great pleasure in welcoming three artists whose work explores the politics of race and identity.

The plasticity of identity over the internet is a well known phenomenon. Internet utopians exalt in a genderless, colorless society that is available only though a digital medium. However, race remains a inextricably formative part of identity, and plays a central, contextualizing role in the nature of communication and social discourse.

In the zealous search for terrorists, racial profiling has become a tool of US security agencies, and more palatable to that nation's population. Skin color has again become an acceptable way to identify those that may pose a threat to the hegemonic culture. Increasingly, the questions that surround stereotyped or commodified portrayals of race and ethnicity require satisfactory answers.

Please join us at -empyre- for the month of July, to participate in the discussion where artists Mendi and Keith Obadike, and damali ayo explore and debate these issues.


Mendi and Keith Obadike are interdisciplinary artists working with music, live art, and conceptual internet artworks. Their works conduct inquiry into the implications of social and cultural networks as relates to blackness. Other areas of exploration include sex toys, current events, and commodification of race and identity. In August of 2002, they exhibited The Interaction of Coloreds, commissioned by the Whitney Museum of American Art. At Yale University Mendi and Keith premiered their Internet opera The Sour Thunder, which was commissioned by the Yale Cabaret and will be released on CD by the classical music label Bridge Records.

The Interaction of Coloreds

Blackness for Sale

The Sour Thunder

damali ayo is a self-described junk artist--defining junk as "things
we once bought (or bought into) and keep around because we are accustomed to their presence." Working from her studio in Portland, Oregon, ayo uses installation, assemblage, sound, paint, fabric--whatever it takes--to investigate concepts that engage her curiosity as well as social and community issues in the US. Her most recent online work,
is a performance work enabled by the internet.

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