Black Death... calls attention to the killing and murder of unarmed Black Americans, and a need for dialogue to move forward. A reminder to morn, the flag signals a memorial to named and unnamed Black victims at the hands of White Americans.
Appearing first as a continuous black color field, a series of stars emerge from the background, and are a symbol of the countless losses that are remembered daily by the Black community. These include, and are not limited to, those who are murdered by the police, innocent victims of the judicial system who are imprisoned for life, and other people who are prey to a variety of acts of violence. Somewhere there must be a reminder of this reality. Flying the work in Granite City, historically a racially segregated “sundown town,” claims space and creates a memorial for Black people–day and night–throughout the exhibition.
As a community, is there any way to reconcile the countless attacks on Black Americans? The death of Emmett Till and the contemporaneous murder of Black Americans, at the hands of civilians and police, come to mind. How long before drastic changes are taken to rework the colonialist system that still shapes how we live? Until then, the work will continue to remind viewers of the past, and how colonialism has evolved into the present.
- Kahlil Robert Irving