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Art for a Forgotten Faith

Edited by Franklin Sirmans; With contributions by Jen Budney, Arthur C. Danto, Julia P. Herzberg, Franklin Sirmans, Greg Tate, Robert Farris Thompson, and Quincy Troupe, and an interview with Ishmael Reed

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NeoHooDoo, a phrase coined by the poet Ishmael Reed in 1970, celebrates the practice of rituals, folklore, and spirituality in the Americas beyond the scope of Christianity and organized religion. The endurance of these centuries-old traditions of magic and healing are the unique focus of this book. Exploring how spirituality influenced artists in the late 20th century and bringing together an intergenerational group of artists from North, Central, and South America, NeoHooDoo reveals the wider implications of ritualized practice in contemporary art.

This book examines the work of thirty-three artists––including Jimmie Durham, David Hammons, José Bedia, Rebecca Belmore, and James Lee Byars––who began using ritualistic practices during the 1970s and 1980s as a way of reinterpreting aspects of their cultural heritage. Younger artists such as Tania Bruguera and Michael Joo are shown to have drawn upon the iconography of ritual. The original essays, which range over artistic use of ritual as a form of therapy, catharsis, or political critique, stand alongside contributions from NeoHooDoo’s key sources of inspiration: Robert Farris Thompson, Ishmael Reed, and Quincy Troupe.

Distributed for The Menil Collection

Exhibition Schedule:

The Menil Collection, Houston (June 27 September 21, 2008)

P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, New York (October 19, 2008 January 26, 2009)

Miami Art Museum, Florida (February 20 May 24, 2009)

Franklin Sirmans is curator of modern and contemporary art at The Menil Collection. Jen Budney is curator of the Kamloops Art Gallery in British Columbia. Arthur C. Danto is professor of philosophy at Columbia University. Julia Herzberg is an art historian and curator specializing in Latin American art. Greg Tate is a cultural critic and contributor to The Village Voice and author of Flyboy in the Buttermilk. Robert Farris Thompson is professor in the history of art at Yale University and author of Flash of the Spirit. Quincy Troupe is a renowned poet.


The Menil Collection, Houston (June 27 September 21, 2008)

P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, New York (October 19, 2008 January 26, 2009)

Miami Art Museum, Florida (February 20 May 24, 2009)

"I strongly suggest all architects interested in the rebuilding of shotgun housing in New Orleans take a good long look at NeoHooDoo. . . . The catalog offers a range of conventional and unconventional art objects from the current exhibition of the same name at The Menil Collection in Houston, framed by major essays by scholars and creative artists concerned with African spirituality infusing American art. . . . This audacious book is a welcome reminder that no term in contemporary architectural design is as taboo as 'vernacular spiritual.'"—Norman Weinstein, 

“Much more than a touring exhibition catalogue…A carefully edited publication of reference.” - Art World

"[This book's] strength lies in addressing the impact of spirituality, in general and specific to the African diaspora, as well as notions of ritualized practices in Norh and South American contemporary art. . . . Recommended. Lower-level undergraduates through graduate students; general readers."—Choice
ISBN: 9780300134186
Publication Date: August 26, 2008
Publishing Partner: Distributed for The Menil Collection
144 pages, 8 1/2 x 10
7 b/w + 88 color illus.
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