February 12–March 23, 2009
Curated by Luis Jacob and Pan Wendt
Justina M. Barnicke Gallery
Funk is best known as a style of dance-music that originated in the polyrhythmic innovations of James Brown during the 1960s, and culminated with George Clinton’s Parliament/Funkadelic (P-Funk) during the 1970s. Funk is both a style of music and a form of social experience. Emerging from the African-American musical traditions of gospel, rhythm-and-blues, rock’n’roll, and jazz, it manifests a utopian dimension in its emphasis on spiritual togetherness, collective pleasure, and shameless bodily expression.
Funkaesthetics is premised on the idea that Funk constitutes a uniquely rich system of thought. With its interest in the distant past of ancient Egypt and the allegorical futures of science-fiction, in its freakish costumes and focus on the figure of “the alien”, Funk manifests a vision of time and identity as mutable and open to transformation. The exhibition is an occasion to consider Funk in the context of its birth at the time of Black consciousness and the struggles for civil rights in the United States. Funkaesthetics is also presented as a uniquely fertile and thought-provoking opportunity for us to reconsider Funk – here and today – in its sinister aspects as well as in its more familiar utopian aspects.