Sherman Fleming (USA)
Sherman Fleming has investigated the body gesture in a series of performances entitled “States of Suspense.” The performances utilize childhood games, ritual, and dance actions as derived from African and Black Atlantic traditions. The body gestures, albeit uniquely male, employ rudimentary strategies of balance, instability, duration, and stamina. The action to achieve and maintain balance, over time, is a metaphor for the maintenance of a position within culture that may be described as “impeccable”—meaning, the ability to remain self-possessed and authentic within the social and institutionalized construct of racism and sexism. Fleming defines this bodily behavior as “psycho-physical,” a behavior that operates through the act of repetition and whose duration is determined by the body’s stamina.
The Webster’s Series draws on images that are visually read through the interpretive frames of the word ‘nigger’ and its derivations as found in the 1913 edition of Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. The compositions, produced in gouache and watercolor and whose assembled images are culled from the early 20th-century editions of National Geographic attempt to illustrate the potency of the words, while, at the same time, reveal their psychological subtext.