Black Nationalism, rural Brooklyn, faces, and monoliths.
Bradford Young is obsessed with faces. More specifically, the Louisville-bred, D.C.-based cinematographer behind Pariah, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, and Mother of George, is determined to render darker skin tones with a quality that does them visual justice. A series of these portraits anchors Bynum Cutler, Young’s elliptical exploration of the evolution of urban landscapes and its demographics, particularly as it relates to Bed-Stuy’s Weeksville settlement. A historic, intentional community, Weeksville was founded by its namesake James Weeks in 1838, not eleven years after the abolition of slavery. An entirely self-sufficient enclave, whose landowners enjoyed their status as registered voters, Weeksville thrived through the early 20th century, until its schools, churches, and various organizations were subsumed by the encroaching cityscape. Rediscovered in 1968 and ushered into preservation, the present-day Weeksville Heritage Center and Creative Time are now probing the site as an early casualty of gentrification with Funk, God, Jazz, and Medicine: Black Radical Brooklyn.
The God proxy among the group, Young set his three-part installation inside the dilapidated nave of the local Bethel Tabernacle AME Church, which also served as the site of Brooklyn’s first racially integrated public school in the 1890s. Bynum Cutler mines the forgotten history of its surroundings through Young’s powerful, monochromatic examination of its halls and congregation, as well as the Weeksville campus and neighborhood at large. During its run from mid-September to October, Black Radical Brooklyn functioned as an essential, multi-faceted conversation starter to address a Bed-Stuy, city, and country in flux. BOMB spoke to Young about the past, present and future of Bynum Cutler, as well as the various subjects it seeks to depict.[ Read More ]