Killer Mike. Recognize that name? How about Fahamu Pecou? If not, don’t worry. You’ll soon have the chance to get up to speed on these two provocative artists by way of several events coming to the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston. It all begins Friday, Aug. 26, 2016.
Pecou, who is renowned for visual works that explore the state of Black existence in the U.S. – and for his hip-hop music stylings and videos – has created a series of installations titled Do or Die: Affect, Ritual, Resistance that will be on exhibit at the Halsey through Oct. 8, 2016.
Pecou is often recognized as the artist who collaborated with rapper Killer Mike on the latter’s 2012 release R.A.P. Music. His visual work has appeared on the hit ABC TV series Black-ish and on the Fox show Empire. In addition, his paintings are featured in noted private and public collections, including the Smithsonian National Museum of African American Art and Culture and the Museum of Contemporary Art Georgia and Societe Generale in Paris.
According to Mark Sloan, director and chief curator of the Halsey Insitute, Pecou’s work in this exhibit seeks to elevate and recontextualize Black life and death. “This is a momentous time in U.S. history,” says Sloan, “and given his subject matter, Fahamu Pecou’s show could not be more timely – or necessary. Pecou offers his art as a form of resistance to the despair and hopelessness that can often paralyze. By presenting his work in a variety of media – painting, drawings, photography, clothing design, video, performance and music – Pecou is able to articulate his complex thoughts on multiple platforms simultaneously.”
To celebrate the opening of this exhibit, Pecou will lead a performance-procession beginning at 6 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 26, 2016, from Gadsden’s Wharf on the Cooper River, down Calhoun Street to the Halsey Institute at St. Philips Street. This procession will begin with an “egun,” which represents the spirits of the departed in the Yoruba tradition and will honor the thousands of African slaves who arrived in Charleston near this location.
For the procession, Sloan says that Pecou will wear the “New World” Egungun costume that he created for the exhibit. “This procession will be significant because it will serve as an elevation ritual acknowledging the spirits of those who died tragically. These rituals customarily clear the way for community healing,” Sloan explains.
In addition to the procession and Pecou’s exhibition, Sloan and his team have scheduled a talk by the artist the following day, Saturday, Aug. 27, at the College’s Simons Center Recital Hall at 2 p.m. Pecou will speak about his work, answer questions and then lead a tour through the exhibit.
Also, on Friday, Sept. 9 at 7 p.m., Pecou will host an installment of interSessionsä, his series of curated conversations between figures from the arts and hip-hop communities. This session will feature Killer Mike and Arturo Lindsay, an artist and scholar who conducts ethnographic research on African spiritual and aesthetic retentions in contemporary American culture.
Learn more about Fahamu Pecou, his work and the Do or Die: Affect, Ritual, Resistance exhibit on the Halsey Institute’s website.
Photo of Fahamu Pecou by Bryan Meltz.