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M. Lamar and Participant Inc.

Harpo Foundation is pleased to provide project support for “NEGROGOTHIC, a Manifesto” a solo exhibition of video, film stills, and props by artist, countertenor, and composer M. Lamar at Participant Inc.. The centerpiece is a film adapted from Lamar’s music theater piece “Surveillance Punishment and the Black Psyche,” which proposes a narrative of a sixteen-year-old black boy sentenced to death in Louisiana in 1947 for killing his older white male lover, who is also his boss and a member of the KKK. Describing the work, the artist has noted: “NEGROGOTHIC politics resurrect, perform, and prophesy radical potentialities of blackness.”

Like the gothic novel, this project mixes romanticism with horror; the horror is American white supremacy. Born in Mobile, Alabama, Lamar draws inspiration from Southern gothic and underground, goth, and post punk music. At the center of NEGROGOTHICISM is the Negro Antichrist, a rock star or blues man like Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, with a big, operatic voice, and a deep connection to the supernatural.

NEGROGOTHIC aesthetics transect romanticism, surrealism, horror, pornography, gospel, metal, and early silent film,” Lamar continues. “From the slave ship to the pillory… on plantations and lynching trees… within and beyond the prison and the grave… the NEGROGOTHIC binds archive to myth, merging bodily properties with supernatural possession.” (Excerpt from grant proposal.)

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