034a - Coby Kennedy - "I Began To Wonder If I Was White" - Genesis Piece - 1 of 1 Auction
@cobykennedy "I Began To Wonder If I Was White" by Coby Kennedy Description: The average white American can't grasp Baldwin's 1961 quote, "To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a state of rage almost, almost all of the time". It's almost impossible for most of this country to fathom the reality that a whole swath of the population exists in what white America itself would describe as a horror film. Constantly persecuted across all levels of society, liberties neglected and gaslit, under the unending threat of imprisonment, torture, and death masquerading as a civil and just society. In tandem with Baldwin's assertion, it could be said that to live as a Black person trying to assimilate into this country is to subject yourself into a state of schizophrenia. It's reflexive to desire to be accepted, and the shortest route to that kind of peace is to assimilate with the society that surrounds you. But what happens when your square peg of Blackness doesn't fit the round hole of the nation? What happens when adopting the tenets of white culture is declared as the baseline for acceptance? How many personalities must an "Other" split themselves into, and at that point what is left of the human that started down this road to begin with? These are the themes behind the video, I Began To Wonder If I Was White. The work draws from my own experience trying to make sense of this reality and watching others destroy themselves navigating the labyrinth of cultural denial, delusional aspirations, and respectability politics for a people whose history, looking back, hits a brick wall for the most part after four generations. This emptiness and desire has broken so many in the diaspora as the pain of the American white-supremacist legacy of the Jim Crow era lives on. If this pain could physically manifest itself what kind of horned beast of hatred would it take shape as? Would those that saw behind the American veiled curtain of respectability feel the rage that Baldwin spoke about and grow the horns of hatred themselves? The video looks at the confusion of merely existing in this society while looking outward for self identity, and the clarity of resolute action when the malicious hypocrisy of it all is made plain to see. Bio: Coby Kennedy (b. 1977; lives and works in New York) uses the communication tools of the advertising and entertainment industry to create paintings, videos and sculptures that hint at unspoken truths, the modern culture of veiled intent, and the questions of subjective realities. A graduate of Columbia University’s Fine Art MFA and Pratt Institute’s Industrial Design BA programs, the artist and industrial conceptual designer has completed residencies at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (2011), Red Bull Arts Detroit (2016), and Anderson Ranch Arts Center (2018). Kennedy is the recipient of the Civil Society Institute Fellowship and One World Award, and has exhibited work domestically and internationally, in Japan, South Africa and Italy.