We’re starry-eyed over ‘Starless Midnight’

Fifty years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., face of the Civil Rights Movement, received an honorary degree from Newcastle University.

King addressed urgency in resolving ‘the problem of racism, the problem of poverty and the problem of war’ in an impromptu speech upon the reception of his award, and it is upon this that Starless Midnight was conceived. Edgar Arceneaux has co-curated contemporary responses from nine artists confronting the social and political climate within which we live.

With the words of King woven audibly throughout the rooms via the videos by Cauleen Smith and Charles Gaines, three female artists play an integral role in the exhibition. Likely due to the entrenched association posters have with peaceful protest, Micol Hebron of Gallery Tally dominates an entire wall with an antagonistic retort to sexism in the art world through crowd-sourced posters. Hebron found herself ‘data obsessed’, delving into the realms of the Internet for statistics on the imbalance of gender representation in galleries. Throughout her research, some institutions attempted to sue on defamation of character, but Hebron and over 2000 contributors obdurately continue their mission of exposure. In response to any men ‘tired’ of belligerent feminists? Hebron says ‘Try being a woman in the patriarchy. We have been tired for over 2000 years.’

Hinkle communicates both contempt and vulnerability of ethnic minorities

The room amalgamates Hebron’s posters with Kenyatta A C Hinkle’s series The Evanesced, the oblong formats mimicking steps taken towards equality – but how successful have we been? Hinkle communicates both contempt and vulnerability of ethnic minorities through the symbiosis of abstract forms and detailed figures in her works. Hinkle’s work draws upon the 64,000 black women who have fallen victim trafficking, colonialism and other forms of erasure stimulate her work across the African and American diaspora.

Karen Davies’ Waiting Room delivers the perfect, if somewhat ambiguous introduction to the exhibition; a waiting room for the prognosis of the world, a world still rife with racism, poverty and war, half a century after King’s speech.

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