On performing Blackness + why Mambu Badu exists

On the ride back to D.C. from Saturday’s amazing Black Portrait Symposium at NYU, I checked Twitter to help the time go by. After scrolling through a few tweets about Charlie Sheen, basketball, and standard news updates, @afrolicious popped up talking about a Vietnamese classmate of hers performing Blackness—or rather, the warped view of Blackness that is currently exported through pop culture.

I was absolutely floored by the insights she offered on the commodification of Black culture, how Blackness is performed, and what we as artists, writers, scholars, coders, scientists, etc. need to do to counter those narratives. It was quite serendipitous to see someone on the west coast putting the exact same topics that were being debated and discussed in New York in a larger, global context.

Her tweets also helped me realize why it’s so important Mambu Badu exists. This space exists because we know there are so many stories out there that are being either ignored or distorted. We want to expose those stories. We want to show nuance where there are only broad strokes. And we hope that you, dear reader, wherever you are, will continue on this journey with us. Go here to read the rest of @afrolicious’ posts on the subject. And check out her great blog on arts and culture as well: www.afrolicious.com.

Updates from the Artists: From NYC to Paris

As the ladies of Mambu Badu are working away on the inaugural magazine and logistics for the summer exhibit, the first cohort of selected artist have steadily been working on some great projects.  See what these photographers have been up to and do not hesitate to shoot us an email with questions.

We are definitely planning future calls for entry so be sure to subscribe to our posts, follow us on Twitter (@mambubadu), ‘like’ us on Facebook, and email us (themambubadu@gmail.com) to stay up-to-date on the latest news from Mambu Badu.

(c) Yodith Dammalash, 2011 from the Gama Series

  • SHOW ME YOUR TAX BRACKET // A mixed media, invitational group exhibit featuring over 40 artists from St. Louis, across the United States and Canada. (Curated by Bryan Walsh and Danielle Spradley @ Aisle 1 Gallery)  The exhibit will open March 18, 2011 and continue through April 16, 2011. Gallery Hours: Saturdays Noon-4pm or by appointment
  • Gama Series, an on-going series about my Ethiopian-born grandmother living in America.

NIKITA GALE

  • Currently showing work at the Auburn Avenue Research Library in Atlanta until April 30th.
  • Participating in Irrational Exuberance, a group show at the Invisible Dog Gallery in NYC from April 30th – May 8th.
  • Collaborating with Streetela, Atlanta streetwear brand.  Show will be held April 9th at Studio 900, Atlanta.  Interview.
  • Showing work in a silent auction and fundraiser for AALAC at Kai Lin Gallery in Atlanta on April 14th.
  • Currently, Sheree is working on her book and as documentarian for Brotherman Comics.

TONIKA “TONI” JOHNSON

  • The youth journalism program co-founded by Tonika “Toni” Johnson, was recently featured in The Chicago Tribune Newspaper.
  • Tonika recently returned from Paris, France photodocumenting the concert of Chicago’s local rapper, Rita J, at La Bellevilloise.

NKECHI EBUBEDIKE

  • Currently working as a producer on a documentary focused on the creation of “Rational House,” a low-cost, sustainable urban housing development in London. The project will be launched at the prototypes unveiling this summer.

The LADIES OF MAMBU BADU are up to a few projects as well:

  • Ms. Alice Wonder AKA Allison McDaniel just posted a series of photographs entitled, “It’s Warm Somewhere.” While the east coast has been battling through its share of frigid weather, Allison’s warm and inviting photographs are a reminder sun, shorts, and picnics are not too far away.
  • Danielle Scruggs‘ self-portraits were just published in F-Stop Magazine Issue #46, “All About Me.” Scroll to the 12th row to see two of her images.
  • Kameelah Rasheed‘s photographs of South Africa were published in Harvard’s Transition Magazine.  Kameelah’s conceptual piece, “Counterfeit: Like a Virgin” was published in South African-based magazine, ITCH.  Her essay, “Lines of Bad Grammar” is published in the book I Speak for Myself:  American Women on Being Muslim, which will be released on May 2nd.  She is interning for Liberator Magazine and is interviewing New York-based artists including Laylah Amatullah Barrayan, Jamel Shabazz and Dread Scott.

*An earlier version of this post had Jennifer’s middle name wrong. It has since been corrected and we regret the error.