Question Bridge: Black Males: Socially Engaged Art and the Politics of Dialogue

Sara Fruchtman

Abstract


Question Bridge: Black Males is a 'trans-media' art project created by Hank Willis Thomas and Chris Johnson in collaboration with Bayeté Ross Smith and Kamal Sinclair. The artists travelled throughout the United States for four years to engage more than 150 Black men in an intercultural dialogue about identity and representation. These exchanges are part of socially engaged art practices that Grant H. Kester calls "dialogical aesthetics," in which artists adopt a collaborative, process-based approach to facilitate a dialogue within communities. As an artwork that is based on conversation, collaboration and community engagement, Question Bridge offers an opportunity to explore the potential for creative expression to engage social issues and stimulate change. This article uses Kester‘s dialogical aesthetics to examine the relationship between dialogue and identity formation. Drawing on postcolonial theorists Frantz Fanon and bell hooks, as well as Jürgen Habermas‘ conception of the public sphere, I argue that Question Bridge creates an opportunity for transformational dialogues that challenge and ultimately deconstruct dominant stereotypes and popular media narratives.


Keywords


Question Bridge: Black Males; trans-media art; socially engaged art; dialogical aesthetics; dialogue; identity; postcolonial theory; self-determination; Habermas; public sphere; communicative action

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This journal is published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License.

 

ISSN 1923-1334 (Online)

University of Victoria