Pamela Sneed’s Imagine Being More Afraid of Freedom Than Slavery by Coco Fusco

Part of the Editor's Choice series.

BOMB 63 Spring 1998
Bombcover 63 1024X1024
Pamela  Sneed

Pamela Sneed. Photo by Lucas Michael. Courtesy of Henry Holt.

I remember sitting in the basement of the Whitney Museum a few years back, thinking it was a weird place for an event featuring the funky bards of the Nuyorican Poet’s Cafe. Then I heard Pamela Sneed’s husky, melodious voice. Cutting a straight line through the crowd with her statuesque presence and piercing gaze, she chanted her poems with a perfect preacher’s cadence. Her words seemed to spring forth from her center of gravity, catapulted into space. She didn’t recite her poems—she made them come alive as true performers do.

Pamela Sneed has graced magazine covers as a model, made many a cameo appearance in independent films, been the fiercest diva bartender at chic watering holes like Bar D’O, scattered her lines across more than a few downtown journals, and performed in Britain and Germany, as well as New York. Now she has a book of her own entitled Imagine Being More Afraid of Freedom Than Slavery. The volume evokes mornings after, answering machines, bad therapists, and the nightmarish memories, both personal and cultural, of a black lesbian artist at the end of the century. As Pamela ponders the meaning of lovers lost and found, of Emmet Till, Harriet Tubman, or of the racial implications of Planet of the Apes, she lets us watch her shirk her fears and give voice to that powerful spirit within her.

—Coco Fusco

Imagine Being More Afraid of Freedom Than Slavery was just published by Henry Holt and Company.

Hilton Als by Coco Fusco
 Hilton Als 1
Ron Athey by Zackary Drucker
Incorruptible Flesh: Messianic Remains, 2014 at performance s p a c e in London. Photo by Manual Vason.

From the Pentecostal churches of his youth to ’80s underground Goth punk and queer clubs to museums around the world, an iconic performance artist tells his story.

Simone Leigh’s The Waiting Room by Terence Trouillot
Simone Leigh 1

For her residency at the New Museum, Leigh looks at the act of healing through the lens of black female caregivers, educators, and intellectuals.

Vince Staples by Simone White
Vince Staples Bomb 1

“Life has a soundtrack. And certain music is a soundtrack to a certain type of identity or feeling. 50 Cent, the Game, and those kinds of guys—they made us feel like our lives were worth nothing, basically.”

Originally published in

BOMB 63, Spring 1998

Featuring interviews with Gillian Wearing, Mona Hatoum, Jim Lewis, Dale Peck, Maureen Howard, John Sayles, Steve Earle, Martin McDonagh, Victor Garber, and Alfred Molina.

Read the issue
Bombcover 63 1024X1024