Blackest Night at SCAD Museum of Art @ Hyperallergic
SAVANNAH, Georgia — “Greetings from New Davonhaime,” declares a postcard featuring three oversize slices of cheese pizza floating in a galaxy of sparkles, darkly overlaid across a faint background of checkered picnic blanket in a grassy, tree-lined field. The card is one of an assortment available for visitors to Blackest Night: A Survey in Blackness by Azikiwe Mohammed — a solo show at the SCAD Museum of Art, part of the Savannah College of Art & Design.
“Greetings from New Davonhaime,” repeats another, with the location in the knockout “large-letter” style of vintage postcards, identifying the place as the “Land of Realness.” Realness, in this case, is paradoxical, of course, because New Davonhaime is not a real place at all, but a kind of mind-place, transposing aspects of Mohammed’s personal experience and broader Black identity into small, digestible attractions, reminiscent of the different-but-interconnected “lands” of a themed amusement park. The name New Davonhaime is a linguistic mashup of the five American cities with the highest density of African-American residents in the United Staes: New Orleans, Louisiana; Detroit, Michigan; Jackson, Mississippi; Birmingham, Alabama; and Savannah, Georgia. The postcard kiosk is stationed in an area designated as Jimmy’s Thrift of New Davonhaime, according to the business cards on the desk (whose website, jimmysthrift.com, reroutes to Mohammed’s artist website). This venue ostensibly sells kitschy found and artist-altered items on its shelves and was manned by Jimmy himself (Mohammed) through the opening week of the exhibition. In addition to proprietor and premiere New Davonhaimian historian, Jimmy maintains oral histories, poems, and stories tied to the objects on display, and those of wider New Davonhaime.
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