Photo courtesy of the artist’s website

Shade Compositions (2009)

Rashaad Newsome explores the sociocultural politics of the black vernacular in Shade Compositions (2009). Working with a chorus of black women, Newsome records, edits, and loops their gestures live by using a hacked Nintendo Wii game controller. The different racial tones of blackness expressed in the sound score derive from cultural stereotypes associated with the black female body. Newsome and the chorus remix such representations constructed by mainstream media and popular culture. Essentially, the performers throw back the “shade”—a term historically used to disrespect black women, which recently has been reclaimed as a positive term—as a gesture to critique negative perceptions of black women. In the process of doing so, they create a sound and image that works to uplift and affirm black women’s identity.

RASHAAD NEWSOME is a visual artist working in collage, video, sculpture, music, and performance. His art practice examines how images in the media and popular culture convey distorted notions of power. Newsome has exhibited and performed at the Brooklyn Museum, MoMA PS1, Whitney Museum of American Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, New Orleans Museum of Art, Centre Georges Pompidou, Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, and Museum Start Gallery Artothek. He participated in the Whitney Biennial at the Whitney Museum (2010) and Greater New York at MoMA PS1 (2011). Newsome has received awards and grants from Franklin Furnace, Harvestworks, L’ Entreprise Culturelle, BCAT/BRIC Rotunda Gallery, and Location One. His artwork is included in public collections at the Brooklyn Museum, Whitney Museum of American Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and New Britain Museum of American Art. He received a BA in Art History from Tulane University and studied Film at Film Video Arts. Newsome is represented by De Buck Gallery, New York City.