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Artist Feature #3: Azikiwe Mohammed

Azikiwe Mohammed is a multimedia artist and photographer born and raised in NYC. He graduated from Bard College in 2005 where he studied photography. In 2015 he received the Art Matters Grant, and in 2016 was the recipient of the Rema Hort Mann Emerging Artist Grant. He  is currently in residence at Mana Fine Arts as part of their mana BSMT program.

Mohammed’s newest series “New Davonhaime” presents theatrics and ephemera as a means for deciphering the cultural, political and historical fragments that make up contemporary blackness. In a series of street photographs and found, artist-made and decontextualized objects, Mohammed proposes a narrative that brings together the five most densely populated black cities in America, the fictional “New Davonhaime” is born out of the collective memory of cities which fell drastically short of creating safe spaces and opportunities for working class black communities.

Jimmy’s Thrift exist in many iterations, all which aim to assist in the material and aesthetic representation of the various communities of New Davonhaime. The fictional thrift store weaves together artist fabricated narratives as well as actual interactions that took place in Mohammed’s research of the project. This conglomeration of history and fiction creates a manufactured reality, one that allows for possibilities beyond disenfranchising politics, and highlights the thriving and constantly evolving culture of diverse urban centers.

In addition to Jimmy’s Thrift, Mohammed’s series From Here On Out, presents a more direct photographic representation of the communities that inspired New Davonhaime: 

“New Davonhaime is a real place. Five real places. The photos in From Here On Out are from me visiting the towns that make up New Davonhaime and asking its actual residents what their concerns are. Offering my ideas and incorporating their answers into potential solutions to try and see if we by showing our faces, not our dead bodies, not our state mandated representations, can reach a solution as to what now. Moving forward. From Here On Out.”

Mohammed’s work stands by the idea of moving forward, progressing not in spite of but because of the problematic history and daily struggles of being Black in America, harnessing strength through appropriated history, deconstructing and transforming trauma into that which can be imaginative, abundant and productive.

For more information on Mohammed’s work check out their website:

 http://new.azikiwephoto.com/

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