Jalal’s exhibition intends to explore the aesthetic tradition of Black Radicalism utilizing history and ephemera from Mobile’s own Africatown and the broader context of port cities in the South. Using found materials from his trips to Mobile, the exhibition will include paintings, assemblages, and sculptural pieces that examine the area’s difficult racial history. Jalal’s metalworking vocation, found architecture, and memorabilia surrounding Alabama natives Cleon Jones and Tommie Agee’s role in the 1969 World Series will all feature as part of the show.from the exhibition text
It’s exceptionally hard to grapple with the legacy of Black Radicalism in the South as a young person of color. The generational divide in Black Radicalism has come into stark relief as Black Lives Matter battered up against the entrenched Black power structures in cities like Atlanta, where civil rights icon Andrew Young called BLM “unlovable little brats.” Twinned with the difficulties of making art as a Black person, the aesthetics and imagery of earlier radicalism can feel like a situation with no way to win, much less remain true to personal aesthetic vision.
Malik, in his first museum solo show, has begun to address this lifelong journey with sly re-contextualizations, producing fine-tuned, alchemical assemblages of popular Black culture and smooth colors. There is—pleasurably—not a whiff of the internet in these works. With so much emphasis on the digital activism of our day—and certainly even more now in our age of Plague—it is worth remembering that Black people have always used our physical environment to communicate ideas of safety, of home, and of the aesthetics of the rage and righteousness of the struggle for shared humanity.
Y. Malik Jalal’s solo exhibition A Study of the Supernatural Phenomenon of Emergence has been extended through April 24 at Alabama Contemporary in Mobile. Due to increased public health precautions in light of the COVID-19 outbreak, please contact the museum to inquire about making an appointment to view the exhibition.