As I turned the corner to see what my fellow intern was rushing me over to view, I expected to see a meaningful work of art that would simultaneously challenge my imagination and evoke some sort of emotion. I certainly knew the work would be engaging because many of the other works in the exhibition were beautiful and quite striking. However, I was not expecting to see a photograph of two African American males, who doubled as brothers, kissing each other. The picture is entitled “Brotherhood, Crossroads & Etc. # 2” by Lyle Ashton Harris.
“What do you make of this one?” the other intern asked me. I replied, “Well … ”
For a moment I stood there shocked, but not because of the nudity. In fact, I was shocked that the photograph expressed African American homosexuality with the Pan-African flag in the background, a juxtaposition that is a taboo in the Black community. Moreover, the gun in the photograph is pointed at the more feminine of the two males; he is typically the more ridiculed individual in a homosexual relationship.
Also, this photo is aberrant from the rest of the “Building the Contemporary Collection” exhibition, because the others are uplifting. The artist chose to expose a truth, a taboo, in the African American community. This work is by far my favorite in the collection because of the emotional connection I developed with the exceptional work of art. The connection is so profound because art exposes all types of truths, however, not often at such an extreme, direct level as this work exemplified with the firearm and two characters.