Mumia Abu-Jamal (1954– )
I was able to connect with my friend and comrade on his/her affiliation with Memphis Art Brigade and the Blacklist. As an active member and participant in the blacklist project, he/she offers a bit of insight into the purpose, intention and direction of the project itself. 2012
The blacklist is an urban education project, it works within the same vain as Memphis Art Brigade as a whole, the idea of reclaiming public space in general and reclaiming education in particular. The blacklist aims to take political discourse and dialectics from the sterile environment of academia and begin these conversations on the streets of Memphis, as to build a critical attitude toward our realities within the community. The idea is simple, each poster is dedicated to an author, theorist, musician, poet, etc which gives a summary of their work and selected bibliography. The idea is to keep ablaze the flame of dissent and protest while simultaneously educating ourselves as to the history of struggles and providing the means to construct a new way forward.
On a personal level, I think its crucial for us to work through the avenue of MAB as anonymous members of the community which add to the dialogue surrounding issues and stand as a _____ of critical thought. This way we can avoid the individualism (self discovery) of much of today’s art, and let the ideas of the work stand for themselves, not a stand in for the artist’s psychological crisis. Take for example the blacklist- there is no real necessity for the viewer to know where they have come from, not that it comes from some external being, hands have produced the posters as well as the fact that humans alone have produced these ideas and theories.
To us art is a form of production, one in which ideas, and the ways in which we see and interpret our reality are created, deconstructed, and progressed. The ruing class has long since known this, just as those who fight against them. We are saying that we must reclaim art as another means by which we may construct a new order and one in which the limitations of your knowledge may be tested and altered. Art can no longer elude what it truly is…. I think John Berger said that (or something like it).
We plan on getting as massive of a distribution as possible- this means establishing a network of distribution which would get posters into all neighborhoods of Memphis whether as pamphlets, posters, zines, etc.
MAB itself is ambiguous in a way. It is not a formal organization. Anyone who wishes to add to the critical dialogue can put up their art on the walls of the city, tag it MAB and THERE, they are a member of MAB. http://memphisartbrigade.blogspot.co.uk/
Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960)