The most significant theoretical turn of the last few years is the resurging interest in identity. With this development, Fred Moten, a black studies scholar and poet known for analyses like his dense, rhythmic 2003 book In the Break: The Aesthetics of the Black Radical Tradition, has become an important name on the lecture circuit. The centerpiece of Wu Tsang’s show at Clifton Benevento is a moving two-channel video made in collaboration with Moten, Miss Communication and Mr:Re, based on voicemail messages they left for one another—obsolescent vocal missed communications in our increasingly text-based world. On separate screens, the artist and writer speak about life, love, nature and art, creating a cascade of overlapping words. Like an operatic duet, themes and sounds—like “drag” and “doom”—ring out in harmony. Joining this work is a slow-motion video of Moten dancing in robes and jewels to a rendition of the jazz song “Girl Talk,” and two sculptures comprised of draped flesh-toned mesh fabric and crystals.
Pictured: Wu Tsang with Fred Moten: Miss Communication and Mr:Re, 2014, two-channel HD video, 17 minutes. Courtesy the artist and Clifton Benevento, New York. Photo Andres Ramirez.