'people sometimes, die' curated by Jesse Hlebo, critics' pick in Artforum

'people sometimes, die Edel Assanti', by Sylwia Serafinowicz

This group exhibition curated by New York–based artist Jesse Hlebo, titled “people sometimes, die,” opens with Denzel Russell’s The Legislator, 2015, a gun-shaped tube of glass filled with blood, which partially exploded some time after it was hung. The piece is violent and seductive, much like Rihanna’s paean to revenge, “Bitch Better Have My Money,” a remix of which serves as the sound track for E. Jane’s videoGetThaMoney.irl.mp4, 2015. Jane’s video offers us a clip from the notorious film Set It Off (1996), a story about four black women turned bank robbers who are, in the words of Vivica Fox’s character in the film, “just taking away from [a] system that’s fucked us all anyway, y’know?”


Alongside this piece is Yulan Grant’s DIS/PLACE, 2016, scored by Marco Gomez and featuring scenes from dancehall parties in Jamaica and New York that play out as ritualized performances of gender, power, and sexuality. Both films are projected on a wall covered in black body bags, next to Devin Kenny’s* (sic) Anonymous Interview with J, 2012. The interlocutor in this film has his face obscured by shadows. He gives us a conspiracy theory about the marketing of gangsta rap: that it’s meant to promote criminal behavior in order to fill private prisons, from which the music industry can profit. Truth or fiction? It’s difficult to tell, and the question is utterly compelling.



10 February 2016