JAZSALYN, Design and Technology ’21, curator of the XR and new media exhibition at Kellen Gallery

The new exhibition summons the work of artists under a common interest in considering blackness outside of a white imaginary, photo by Christabelle Tan

JAZSALYN, Design and Technology ’21, curator of the XR and new media exhibition at Kellen Gallery

“The black beyond is limitless. It is left open and undone. He seeks to summon and alchemize a new being of darkness through the assemblage of art as community practice and community activations.

This is part of the “black beyond” mission statement, a new media research group of black and female artists founded by JAZSALYN, Design and technology ’21, where artists and activists come together to speculate on alternative realities for black people.

Recently, the group launched their first in-person exhibition at The New School’s Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Gallery, _assemblage, alchemy, ascension [a^3], which officially runs from February 7 to March 18, 2022.

Curated by JAZSALYN, Shameekia Shantel Johnson and Yvonne Mpwo, the exhibition brings together the work of artists Harmony Holiday, Adama Delphine Fawundu, Lamb, Zainab Aliyu, Jamal Ademola, Anastasia Warren, Fields Harrington, JAZSALYN, Jazmine Hayes, Asia Stewart, ed- fr, Xavier Scott Marshall and Willy Ndatira under a common interest in considering blackness outside of a white imaginary.

“_a^3 is a critical analysis of black critical metatheories,” says JAZSALYN, who is also a faculty member of the DT program. “It maps and dissolves the falsified structures of modernity, and imagines new realities for black and indigenous life through an exploration of (afro)pessimism, nowism, afro vs. afro futurism, and black womanism.”

JAZSALYN originally conceived the exhibition during her first semester in the Design and Technology program alongside artist Neta Bomani. The following year, JAZSALYN extended the show to a digital platform where it took the form of an XR experience titled “_origins.” The show was inspired by JAZSALYN’s experiences with erasure in the digital art scene, and was intended to serve as an ode to black women, women, gender non-conforming individuals and beyond.

“In a^3, new media, sculpture, performance, and conceptual works alchemize a new being of darkness through the assemblage of art as community practice and community activations,” shares JAZSALYN. “The thirteen artists radically seek out and defiantly manifest a collective vision of the black future made possible only by disruption; an ascending reality. In addition to featured artists, black Beyond’s XR _origins experience serves as a prelude to a^3, which is installed as a physical portal within the gallery space.

The exhibit also reflects the importance of collaboration, which is integral to the Parsons mission and program. For JAZSALYN, curating the exhibition has allowed her to work with other artists who create at the intersection of art, race and technology, but lack access to the spaces and resources to develop and fully realize their work. Many of his collaborators for the exhibit are Parsons alumni, current students, and other faculty and professors.

“_a^3 is about building community for black arts cultural workers and community organizers inside and outside of institutions,” she said. “It’s about reallocating institutional resources. Disrupt, decolonize and re-indigenize social structures, creative practices and beyond.

Referring to the title, the show has three different parts, allowing viewers to engage on multiple levels. According to JAZSALYN, “The Assembly is about collective synergy and responding to exhibitors and their work. This opens a portal to alchemy, which refers to building community. Unlearning and learning through public lectures and workshops. As Ascension channels sound and performance as technology to transcend and preserve the spirit.

The curators hope that the public will go beyond simply visiting the exhibition and participate in the extended programs of the multidimensional activations in order to begin to build community.

JAZSALYN cites her time in the DT program as influential in both her personal artistic practice and her work with the Black Beyond. As a faculty member of the same program, she discovered how integral her professional practice is to her role as an educator, as the work she does outside of the classroom regularly influences how how she interacts with the students.

“Organizing workshops and public speaking series through the Dark Beyond has influenced how I view the dynamics of teachers and students,” she explains. “I strive to create a more collaborative classroom environment as a faculty member. Teaching is now an extension of the work I do.

This includes JAZSALYN’s fall 2021 class, which she co-taught with writer, sound artist and Make Techno Black Again member DeForrest Brown Jr., which explored the history of techno origins and the black experimental music via 3D soundscapes in New York. The class also held workshops and guest lecture series with Flying Lotus, Jlin, Jace Clayton and Abelton. Guest lectures during the course were open to the public, which allowed students to broaden their perspectives and develop more equitable methods of information sharing.

While the exhibition is in full swing, JAZSALYN looks to the future. She is currently a member of the Extended Realities cohort with NEW INC at the New Museum and plans to teach at Parsons next fall.

To follow JAZSALYN and all things black beyond, be sure to follow instagram and Twitter. If you would like to help support the work of Black Beyond, please consider make a donation to the platform. By doing so, black Beyond can finance the programming and future exhibitions of its ecosystem.


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