In November 2019, hundreds of Black reenactors in period attire retraced the 24-mile path of the German Coast Uprising of 1811, the largest rebellion of enslaved people in American history. The procession marched through the River Parishes upriver from New Orleans and concluded in the city ending in Congo Square, a location instrumental to preserving African culture in the United States. Envisioned and organized by Scott, Slave Rebellion Reenactment embodied a story of resistance, freedom and revolutionary action.
The reenactors, many on horses, were a formidable and impressive sight as they carried flags and brandished weapons, wearing 19th-century French colonial garments and singing in Creole and English to African drumming. The procession was startlingly incongruous as they advanced past modern-day neighborhoods, strip malls, and oil refineries. This anomaly created a cognitive dissonance for viewers, opening a space for people to rethink long held assumptions about our history. Slave Rebellion Reenactment continued the original rebels' vision of emancipation and allowed participants and audience members to imagine new possibilities.
We're Going to End Slavery. Join Us! is the debut presentation of this project in a US gallery. The exhibition features large-scale performance stills from the 2019 performance alongside flags that were designed and created for the reenactment. The flag designs-imagined versions of what the enslaved people might have carried-showcase Creole language and iconography from various African traditions that could have been familiar to some of the rebels.
Dread Scott (b. 1965, Chicago, IL) is an interdisciplinary artist who for three decades has made work that encourages viewers to re-examine cohering ideals of American society. In 1989, the US Senate outlawed his artwork and President Bush declared it "disgraceful" because of its transgressive use of the American flag. Dread became part of a landmark Supreme Court case when he and others burned flags on the steps of the Capitol. He has presented a TED talk on this subject.
His art has been exhibited at MoMA/PS1, The Walker Art Center, and street corners across the country. He is a 2021 Guggenheim Fellow and the 2019 Open Society Foundations Soros Equality Fellow and has received fellowships from United States Artists and Creative Capital Foundation. His art is included in the collections of the Whitney Museum and the Brooklyn Museum. His studio is in Brooklyn, New York.
Founded in 2010, Cristin Tierney Gallery is a contemporary art gallery located on The Bowery with a deep commitment to the presentation, development and support of a roster of both established and emerging artists. Its program emphasizes artists engaged with critical theory and art history, with an emphasis on conceptual, video, and performance art. Education and audience engagement is central to our mission.
Cristin Tierney Gallery is a member of the ADAA (Art Dealers Association of America).
Dread Scott, Slave Rebellion Reenactment Performance Still 1, 2019. pigment print. 39 3/8 x 59 1/8 inches (100 x 150 cm).
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