Image of artwork titled "Malcolm's Smile 7A" by Nep Sidhu

Nep Sidhu, Malcolm's Smile 7A, 2014
Wool, cotton, aluminum
150 × 96 × 15 inches

Completed in 2015, [“Malcolm’s Smile” is a part of] “SonicArchiTextile”, an aural visual installation inspired by and constructed for Malcolm X on the 50th anniversary of his assassination. The installation consists of two components: Malcolm’s Smile, Nep’s three, twelve-foot tall, hand woven tapestries, with macramé forms cascading atop golden platforms; and Ecdysis, an ecstatic and meditative musical work, composed and arranged by Ishmael. [...] Malcolm’s Smile interprets for us the various phases of Malcolm X’s life. The tapestries are replete with iconography pertinent to Islam and numerous references to the African continent, a place that became very important to Malcolm X subsequent to his completion of the Hajj. Less obvious, but overtly felt, is the third space “Malcolm’s Smile” offers for what the scholar Christina Sharpe calls wake work. “Wakes allow those among the living to mourn the passing of the dead through ritual; they are the watching of relatives and friends beside the body of the deceased from death to burial and the accompanying drinking, feasting, and other observances; a watching practiced as a religious observance. But wakes are also ‘the track left on the water’s surface by a ship; the disturbance caused by a body swimming, or one that is moved, in water; the air currents behind a body in flight; a region of disturbed flow; in the line of sight of (an observed object); and (something) in the line of recoil of (a gun)’; finally, wake also means being awake and, most importantly, consciousness.” (Christina Sharp, “Black Studies:In The Wake,” 2014) When we can properly mourn our ancestors, we are more emotionally fit but we are also, as Sharpe states, awakened, in a conscious state. This state of awakened consciousness is the fulcrum of Malcolm X’s life’s work. That Nep and Ishmael have captured this so exquisitely is, I believe, the greatest gift of “SonicArchiTextile” installation, [and, consequently, “Malcolm’s Smile”.]

-Excerpt from “Nep Sidhu : Shadows in the Major Seventh” by Negarra A. Kudumu, Manjot Bains, Jordan Strom, Liane Davison, Nep Sidhu



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