On a warm Chicago night, Rootwork gallery opened their first exhibition on Sept. 9th titled “The In Between Space: Black Magic. Black Manhood. Black Matter.”
The creator of the exhibit is 2017 Columbia MFA candidate Viktor Le. Givens + . The exhibit is a bewitching blend of African ancestry, Southern soul and black manhood that is a genuine experience of blackness that anyone of any gender could appreciate. It is an experience full of ancestry, gratitude of Southern roots, and impenetrable magic. Givens has a passion for collecting old artifacts, or discarded objects and using them to challenge the minds of those who witness his work.
“A lot of the work I deal with is ancestry and ancestors,” revealed Givens.
“There is power in memory and objects and [that] the way in which we arrange objects in our faces reflect the way in which we interact with the world. So this notion of magic that I mentioned in the title of the show…I am hinting at when we expand our consciousness, our hearts and our minds we can manipulate the way in which we interact.”
Givens used objects that we interact with daily to expand our perception. Shoes were imprinted all over the gallery that belonged to black men; on the walls of the gallery hung medicine cabinets, and in the cabinets were home cooked remedies. The medicine cabinets signified the tools that Black Southern alchemists would use. There were bottles, quilts, photo frames, and other day to day objects that Givens personified. He taught a new definition of magic.
Givens confirmed, “Magic is the belief that the world we live in has multiple entry points and passages for us to explore. Magic is a consciousness. There are multiple dimensions in everything that we do. Conversations around magic shouldn’t be focused on Hocus Pocus, Walt Disney, it’s what you think in your mind and harness. It influences the way you move through this place and space that is life, matter, magic, man, black man, black magic, black men matter.”
A particular piece of the night surely captured the essence of magic that Givens mentioned. Titled “Catapult,” the artist crafted a ladder that leads to a birdcage like box mounted high on bins surrounded by old phones. The phones are unplugged and tangled with each other. The box inside is lit with feathers, wood, and imagination.
Givens described it as his favorite.
“Catapult, the sculptural piece with the phones- that’s the isotope teleportation trans molecularization device. With belief, you can walk up that ladder and go anywhere in the world!”
Experience Viktor Le Givens’ perspective of “magic” yourself. The In Between Space runs until November 20 at the RootWork gallery, 645 W. 18th Street .
View the photo gallery below:
story: Kwynn Riley
photos: Julian Ramirez