Last night SFMOMA celebrated the finale of Stage Presence, an exhibit exploring the theatrical in contemporary art. I skipped the curator’s talk for a chance to take one last look at Cindy Sherman’s retrospective - I’m hoping to eventually find the talk on the SFMOMA Artcasts. By the time I made it back down to the Haas Atrium, there were already swarms of people waiting eagerly for Rashaad Newsome’s Shade Compositions to begin. After a brief introduction from SFMOMA Associate Curator of Public Programs, Frank Smigiel, the atrium was filled with sounds from Newsome’s video being projected overhead. The performers descended the staircase, and captivated their audience for nearly an hour of voice and body language. The SFMOMA performance, unlike previous iterations, included local women artists and drag performers - challenging viewers to consider the various African American communities in the Bay Area and the way queer culture has drawn inspiration from the archetypical “black diva”.
I’m interested in the potential curriculum that could form around this narrative, and how Newsome’s work could be introduced into the understanding of performance art in the classroom.