More than ever, the void between Black men is even more evident with rising crime and other factors across the nation. But what is rarely acknowledged is that there are many who wish to tackle the issues of the day as a unified front. Oakland-based artist Chris Johnson takes aim at sparking those necessary conversations with his “Question Bridge: Black Males” exhibit.
The exhibit, which opens Oct. 11th at the San Diego African American Museum of Fine Art at the M.L. King Center at Bayview Baptist Church, is an ambitious project from Johnson but one with a goal of provoking thought.
“It’s really hard for me to think that anybody who walks into ‘Question Bridge’ with one idea about who Black men are, whatever their assumptions are about the way Black men think and feel, could leave feeling the same way,” said Chris Johnson, the Oakland-based artist who co-created the work.
The essence of Johnson’s project is rooted in a 1996 installation he did for the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park. In that initial version of “Question Bridge,” Johnson divided the African-American community into two segments — those who had stayed in the neighborhood, even after the enactment of civil rights legislation opened up other options, and those who left for Whiter, more middle-class areas.
Johnson, a Brooklyn native, hopes to look at the differing sides of Black men and thinks that “Question Bridge” serves the purpose of putting a new, concentrated focus on those differences in a honest way.
Watch a snippet of “Question Bridge” here:
More than 150 men across 12 cities were subjects for the project, which took Johnson four years to compile. He encouraged his subjects to also craft questions to the camera as if it were another Black man with a different experience than his own sitting in front of them.
Johnson’s exhibit has made national rounds, but the Union-Tribune artfully notes that perhaps this current incarnation of “Question Bridge” can help make sense of the current events in Ferguson, Chicago, the sports world, and beyond.