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Hip-Hop News: Tupac Featured In Exhibit at Studio Museum in Harlem
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Posted by Robert
Rap News Network
11/6/2003 11:49:35 AM

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hip-hop has been shaped by global culture, evolving under the influence of disparate peoples and regional trends. Now two new exhibits—featuring installations, photographs, paintings, drawings and multimedia projects, mostly by contemporary young artists with African-American and Asian-American ties—explore hip-hop’s ability to absorb outside forces and adapt. “Black Belt,” at the Studio Museum in Harlem (through January 2004), looks specifically at hip-hop’s debt to Asian culture. When hip-hop was born in the early 1970s, “people of color were looking to each other for political and philosophical inspiration,” says curator Christine Y. Kim. One place hip-hop’s founders looked was to the Eastern martial arts—particularly kung fu and Bruce Lee. Sanford Biggers’s “Nanchakus,” a plastic-and-steel replica of the martial-arts weapon, lights up like a modern-day Excalibur. David Diao’s huge silk-screen portraits of Bruce Lee hang on the walls, and Rico Gatson’s video footage of Muhammad Ali and Lee fighting in their prime blare MTV-style from nine screens.

David Hammons explores the popular hip-hop theme of solidarity in oppression via a series of manipulated photos of Tupac Shakur called “Out of Sequence.” In life, Shakur was a platinum-selling rapper with a penchant for dangerous living. In death, he has become a symbol of destroyed opportunity and lost youth. Hammons offers a photo of Shakur in a straitjacket, his soulful eyes expressing a burden any oppressed person could identify with. Another work, “In the Hood,” eliminates the subject entirely, simply pinning a hood to the wall.
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