UArts Alumni Featured in Groundbreaking Black Performance Art Exhibition

Two-part 'Radical Presence: Black Performance in Contemporary Art' features work by Jayson Musson BFA '02 (Photography) and Dave McKenzie BFA '00 (Printmaking)

Jayson Musson BFA ’02 (Photography) as Hennessy Youngman on YouTube.

October 8, 2013

This fall, New York University's Grey Art Gallery and the Studio Museum in Harlem are co-presenting "Radical Presence: Black Performance in Contemporary Art," the first comprehensive survey of more than five decades of performance art by black visual artists. This groundbreaking exhibition features two UArts alumni: Jayson Musson BFA '02 (Photography) – aka Hennessy Youngman – and Dave McKenzie BFA '00 (Printmaking).

The exhibition, organized by Valerie Cassel Oliver for the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, is presented in New York in two parts: Part I is on view through December 7, 2013, at NYU's Grey Art Gallery; Part II will run November 14, 2013, to March 9, 2014, at the Studio Museum in Harlem. The exhibit will be accompanied by more than a dozen live performances and public programs throughout its six-month run.

Performance art by Dave McKenzie BFA '00 (Printmaking).

Providing a critical history beginning with Fluxus and Conceptual art in the early 1960s through present-day practices, "Radical Presence" chronicles the emergence and development of black performance art over three generations, presenting a rich and complex look at this important facet of contemporary art. The exhibition comprises more than 100 works by some 36 artists, including video and photo documentation of performances, performance scores and installations, interactive works, and artworks created as a result of performance actions. Accompanying the exhibition is a 144-page illustrated hardcover catalogue, a major contribution to scholarship on performance art as well as black visual art.

A 2013 Silver Star Alumni Award recipient, Musson is best known as his YouTube alter-ego "Hennessy Youngman" and for his "paintings" crafted from disassembled Coogi sweaters, made famous by "The Cosby Show" and rapper Notorious B.I.G. He was included on The Huffington Post's list of "30 Black Artists Under 40 You Should Know" and is also the voice sampled in the "Harlem Shake" viral video-meme sensation.

McKenzie was born in Kingston, Jamaica, and lives and works in New York. In 2005, he was awarded the $25,000 William H. Johnson Prize for outstanding achievement by an African-American artist and he received the Louis Comfort Tiffany Award in 2006. His work has been shown in solo exhibits at the 40,000 Gallery (Chicago), Susanne Vielmetter Gallery (Los Angeles) and Savage Art Resources (Portland, Ore.).

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