Lorraine O'Grady on the Social Castes of the Art World


Manage episode 287787039 series 2563069
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This month, as the world limps its way toward spring and, hopefully, a gradual return of normality, the Brooklyn Museum has opened a show called “Lorraine O’Grady: Both/And” that provides valuable fodder for thought in the year ahead.

As the title suggests, it’s a career retrospective of the venerated performance and experimental artist Lorraine O’Grady, who for more than 40 years has created poetic, hard-to-classify works that probe questions of inclusion and identity in a way that has had a deep, orienting impact on a whole rising generation. Admirers are quick to point to the power of her writing as well, perhaps particularly “Olympia’s Maid," her classic 1992 essay considering the flattening of Black female sexuality in art history.

It so happens that Ben Davis, our chief art critic, has been one of these admirers for a long time, and he recently sat down with the artist in the run-up to her retrospective to discuss her career, how her upbringing in Boston’s Caribbean-American community shaped her art, what it was like to go viral when the Biden administration paid homage to her work in a post-election ad, and much more.

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