MARCH 1, 2012

“Fort HMAAC” is the latest offering from Houston-based collective Otabenga Jones. The inaugural exhibition marking the opening of the Houston Museum of African American Culture’s new space on Caroline Street, seek “Fort HMAAC” illustrates pedagogical and revolutionary ethos that girds the collective’s practice, as well as the curatorial approach that informs the groups’ museological interventionist installations.

Raising the issue of the precarious position of many African American cultural institutions Otabenga Jones has repurposed the HMAAC and posited the site as a type of safe haven. Approaching the HMAAC, one encounters a stack of sandbags that line the front entrance. Though the glass doors at the entrance, one can see further sandbags in the main foyer and lower gallery spaces that are ostensibly shoring up the walls of the museum.

The collective has transformed the main floor gallery space into a bunker/classroom. The walls of the gallery have been painted various shades of green and a glass door that leads into a back garden area is covered by a camouflage sheet and adhered with packing tape. Few objects are contained within the gallery space. Four tables in the center of the room enclose a still life comprised of plinths covered in black fabric, artificial palm leaves and flowers and a wrapped African mask on a stick that sports sunglasses.

This article originally appeared in Arts+ Culture magazine. To continue reading, click here.