What does it mean to be a black male in America today?
Artists Hank Willis Thomas and Chris Johnson set out to find out how black men self-identify for their exhibit, “Question Bridge: Black Males,” currently on display at the Brooklyn Museum. The interactive art exhibit consists of more than 1,500 question-and-answer exchanges with black men filmed in schools, community centers, churches, jails, museums and private homes from all over the country.
“Most documentary-type projects have a negative or a singular voice. ‘Question Bridge’ is fueled by the voices of the subjects,” says Willis Thomas. “The men range from everyday people to convicts to politicians to celebrities. It shows us that everyday people can have deep and profound things to say and to offer.”
The New York City-born Willis Thomas, who defines himself as a “conceptual artist walking within the shadows of history, identity and culture and media,” wanted “Question Bridge” to not only be groundbreaking in its conception, but also in how it’s presented. The exhibition includes multiple screens playing videos of the interviews, edited so that it appears as if the men are having a conversation. Visitors to the Brooklyn Museum can also check out the user-generated “Question Bridge” website, accessible on iPads throughout the gallery, which offers a platform to represent and redefine black male identity in America.
By incorporating interactive elements, Willis Thomas wants “Question Bridge” to “show there’s as much diversity inside of a demographic as there is outside of it,” he says. “We’re trying to redefine how we look at gender and race.”
If you go
‘Question Bridge: Black Males’
200 Eastern Parkway