Arthur Dobrin, a professor at Hofstra University who teaches applied ethics, had a chance to see the 'Plantation (pla-ta-shun)' exhibition at Redux and wrote a post on his reaction to it:
Helping us to remember correctly: The Art of Colin Quashie
Charleston is a beautiful city and a lively destination site filled
with hot restaurants and nightlife. Charleston is also said to have the
port of entry from more than half of the slaves brought to the United
States. There is one museum dedicated to slavery in the city. While
nicely done, it fails to convey the horrors of slavery. Whips and
shackles seem more like art objects rather torture devices.
there is mention that in the South up to 50,000 slaves escaped each
year up until the Civil War, you learn nothing about the Stono
Rebellion, the largest slave uprising on the British mainland prior to
the American Revolution, or the Denmark Vesey Conspiracy, in 1822, which
precipitated a vicious backlash by whites and led to 35 hangings.
art that is available in the City Market reflects the stylized view of
the South. Billowing skirts against black skin and blue sky that
idealize the Gullah culture of the South Carolina Lowcountry are the
main motifs. Charleston is surrounded by the nostalgia of Gone With the Wind. Many housing sub-divisions are called Plantation something or other, a nomenclature that strikes my Northern ears as chilling.
The shock of slavery and racism was best conveyed to me by the work of Colin Quashie, a contemporary artist living in Charleston. http://www.quashie.com/html/
“Plantation,” the exhibit of his work at the Redux Contemporary Art
Center in Charleston, struck me in the gut. His work is described as Op-Ed
Art. In it Quashie brings together the past and the present through
creations such as Plantation Monopoly and a riff on the J. Crew catalogue that features items such as a chic black tie that is a hangman’s noose.
work doesn’t go down well with a chamber of commerce and it hard to
imagine the tourist office directing traffic to his studio. Psychic pain
and historic truths aren’t good for business. But artists aren’t meant
to make us comfortable but to break through the frozen seas of
self-satisfaction. Quashie is very good at bringing an ax to the
I was granted permission to take photos of the exhibit, so I assume that it is OK to include two that I took.
Original Blog post can be read by clicking here: Psychology Today