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John Lucas and Claudia Rankine's 'Situations' comes to MSU Broad Art Museum

The Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University is hosting the entire series of  “Situations” videos collaboratively produced by documentary filmmaker John Lucas and poet Claudia Rankine. The series will be on view Feb. 8–May 31 with an opening reception on Friday, Feb. 7 from 6–8 p.m.

Lucas and Rankine began producing “Situations” in 2008 following the election of former President Barack Obama. The “Situations” videos address the complexities of living in a so-called post-racial U.S. by foregrounding the public and private experiences of Black Americans. They combine still and moving images from archival, televised and surveilled sources, and voice-overs by Rankine to address both explicit acts of racism and the insidious racist aggressions that are built into institutional structures and everyday life.

Lucas and Rankine said “these are multi-genre responses to contemporary America. The videos exist around public experiences in individual lives. These experiences turn into situations that resonate with us not only as people, but as citizens.”

“Situations” emerges from Rankine’s 2014 hybrid prose-poetry book “Citizen: An American Lyric,” which likewise highlights the micro and macro racist aggressions which occur daily and are perpetuated by the media in the U.S.

Copies of the book are now available for purchase at the MSU Broad Museum store.

John Lucas has worked as a documentary photographer for more than 25 years and has directed and produced several cutting-edge multimedia projects. In 2014, Lucas completed his first feature-length documentary film “The Cooler Bandits,” which was awarded best documentary at the 2014 Harlem International Film Festival. His work has been exhibited in museums and galleries both nationally and internationally including the Brooklyn Museum, Cleveland Museum of Art, Redcat, OK Harris Works of Art, La Panaderia, Aeroplastics Contemporary and Fieldgate Gallery.

Claudia Rankine is the acclaimed author of five collections of poetry. Her works include “Citizen: An American Lyric,” which received the 2016 Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt Book Prize for Poetry, the 2015 Forward Prize for Poetry and the 2014 National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry; “Don't Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric;” “PLOT;” “The End of the Alphabet” and “Nothing in Nature is Private,” which received the Cleveland State Poetry Prize. In 2017, she founded The Racial Imaginary Institute, a moving collaboration "committed to the activation of interdisciplinary work and a democratized exploration of race in our lives." She is currently the Frederick Iseman Professor of Poetry at Yale University.

“Situations” is part of the Michigan State University Federal Credit Union Artist Project Series, which features work by artists at different moments in their careers, offering a space to develop ideas that may be in its early stages. Artists are specifically encouraged to consider how their work connects to the interdisciplinary educational models advanced by Michigan State University, fostering collaborations and other forms of engagement with faculty, students, and community members alike.

By: Morgan Butts

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