Memetic Videos for 'Black Artist Burnout'

An ongoing collaborative artwork surfaces consequences of race-related trauma in the arts

Update: Black Artist Burnout has now launched as part of First Look: New Art Online, copresented with the New Museum. 

Memetic videos shared this month as part of the multimedia project Black Artist Burnout evoke the experiences that Black artists often have when dealing with white institutions, even ones with “good” intentions. The first video shared by the group opens with a content warning, followed by a notorious clip from the television sitcom Family Matters in which the character Laura is the victim of racist graffiti at school. The videos go on to feature GAN-generated, Rorschach-style inkblots, 3D avatars of Black people expressing exhaustion, and snippets from conversations which seem to feature artists comparing notes on their frustrations with the cultural sector. 

The videos are the first component of a larger multimedia project that aims to highlight the consequences of systemic race-related trauma on artists and their ecosystem, to develop strategies for individual and community-level care, and to communicate this through online artwork. Commissioned by Rhizome, Black Artist Burnout is by Registered Nurse and integrative medicine practitioner Liz Mputu (LVLZ Healing Hub) and m3ga, a web3 smart company led by Architectural Designer Gregory Ketant and conceptual artist/designer Moustafa Hassan (Nexus/Room). 

Content warning: the following video contains footage of racist graffiti.

Liz Mputu and m3ga (Gregory Ketant and Moustafa Hassan), B.A.B PSA #1, 2022.

Drawing on Mputu’s background in healthcare and community building, the project’s creators will go on to publish an online care plan in the coming days as part of the forthcoming Black Artist Burnout website, copresented with the New Museum as part of First Look: New Art Online. Black Artist Burnout is also envisioned as an ongoing project. Its creators plan to further develop the care plan and share results through one-on-one and small group conversations and consultations, informing the project’s overall direction. For ongoing updates, follow Black Artist Burnout posts on Instagram. 


The Rhizome Commissions Program is supported by Jerome Foundation, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York legislature.