Free admission (all visitors, all hours)
St. Ann’s Warehouse presents Julian Alexander & Khadijat Oseni’s “Supremacy Project,” a public art project addressing the systemic oppression and violence BIPOC communities are fighting to end through art. On view through April 25, the installation draws on the powers of photography, design, poetry and branding to evoke the ubiquitous nature of injustice in American society. It comprises two exhibitions: Michael T. Boyd’s “Lost Ones. Culture Found.,” which reexamines the legacy of widely known victims of police brutality and hate crimes, on the building’s Water Street facade; and Julian Alexander and photographer Steven “Sweatpants” Irby’s Supremacy: Who Protects Me From You?, which illuminates the systemic inequities at the core of our government, on the Dock Street exterior of St. Ann’s Warehouse.
Supremacy Project began shortly after the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis Police officer Derrick Chauvin in summer 2020. In response, Alexander and Oseni installed Supremacy: Who Protects Me From You? as rotating 21-foot murals at the nearby Brooklyn Navy Yard. The murals collided familiar branding fonts in one word—“Supremacy”—written across black-and-white representations of the judicial and executive branches: a group of police officers in riot gear during a Black Lives Matter protest in Times Square; and planes appearing like a crown above the granite heads of Mount Rushmore. (A third installment representing the legislative branch will debut in Spring 2021). The pieces provoked conversation among passersby and on social media throughout the summer and fall, and the second mural was defaced, and not just once or by one person, reinforcing the work’s message.
“The reason I created this work was a sense of urgency,” Alexander says. “I had something to say and this was how I chose to express myself. Supremacy is chiseled into the foundation of our society, prevalent in all three branches of our government—and I wanted to approach that using the familiar language of brands that we know people respond to. It’s a huge part of the psychology of how art sparks dialogue. ”
At the end of 2020, Oseni and Alexander were connected to St. Ann’s Warehouse Artistic Director Susan Feldman and artist Michael T. Boyd almost at the same time, and the larger vision for the St. Ann’s Warehouse installation came to life organically. Feldman is a lifelong activist who grew up in the 1960s and understands “that people need forms of expression and ways to gather together and emote together and feel things together.” Boyd is a creative advertising professional who previously was sharing his personal art with the world on social media.