This art project gives new perspective to the unassuming
There are a couple of reasons why art is my favorite creative genre. First, it’s open to interpretation. There is no right or wrong way of viewing or internalizing a piece. More importantly though, art has the distinct ability of taking the mundane and making it extraordinary. This is exactly what Maachew Bentley (aka DJ Thoth) has cleverly accomplished with his #museumdegenie hashtag.
For the series, Maachew Bentley shoots unassuming objects in gallery-like settings, breathing new life into them as cultural staples for black identity. Growing up in NY in the early ’90s, every kid’s bragging rights came down to what kind of candy they had or what snacks they could share, namely Nerds, Peanut Chews, Nutrament, Twinkies. You won’t find these eats at your local artisanal grocery store (please gentrified Brooklyn, enough). No. These certified junk goodies represent a simpler time. Even before Facebook. Feel old yet? Which is why the use of Instagram as a platform to host the works of art adds dimension to the integrity the photographer and viewer is projecting onto them. Forget sharing your five course Michelin meal for Instagram foodie bravado, Maachew Bentley’s profile boasts some of these yummy bodega favorites:
By taking them out of their element, Bentley breathes new life into these treats. Even the hashtag #museumdegenie gives them a level of unexpected integrity. This isn’t quite an original concept, many black artists transplant Black culture into “white legacy” contexts such as Awol Erizku, Kehinde Wiley and Licinio Januario to name a few.
Perhaps the goal of using this process is to highlight black culture in a context that has been long studied as appropriate and respected. Ultimately making it universally accessible and eliminating any room for doubt.
I am subscribed to this hashtag and I suggest you do the same.