A Mirrorball to Liberation

Black power, gay pride, and the hustle revisited

“Do You Think I’m Disco” is Edwin Ramoran’s most recent curatorial project at Longwood Art Gallery @ Hostos in the Bronx, and it feels like a revolution. The intergenerational show includes work by more than 40 artists based nationally and internationally, like Discoteca Flaming Star from Berlin, Alex Donis and Megan Whitmarsh from Los Angeles, Luis Jacob from Canada, and Mickalene Thomas, Mel Cheren, and Boris Torres from New York, to name but a few. plan to spend some time investigating the many videos on offer, as well as paintings, sculpture, photography, dance, and drawings. A series of events are scheduled––including “There But For The Grace of God Go I,” in which Ivan Monforte offers visitors free, private HIV screenings administered by Bronx Community Action for prenatal Care on a first-come first-served basis on alternating Saturdays throughout the show.

The first Wednesday of every month also brings exciting events by participating artists. Keep an eye out for Ramdasha Bikceem’s “We’ve Got a Motherfucking plan International,” the artist’s collective DJ and activist project on March 1, beginning at 6 p.m.

“Do You Think I’m Disco” considers U.S.-based liberation movements––think black and queer pride––and their subsequent influence on identity politics, so everyone gets invited to this VIP party. Carrie Moyer’s “Inflamer,” a glittering, semi-abstract painting of a flag, collapses Morris Louis with Morris Day, and holds down Longwood’s main gallery with a mixture of pride and protest that is evident in much of the work on view. Jamel Shabazz’s hot black and white photographs, Shirley Wegner’s exceptional video “Soldier Dancing on Ruins,” and Swati Khurana’s short film “Love, Life-Support and The pursuit of Marriage” are all memorable stops in this trajectory.

Like the mirrored tiles of a disco ball, the exhibition reflects a myriad of artistic strategies and narratives, and there’s not room here to talk about all of the inspiring and inventive work on view. Suffice it to say that there’s something to engage everyone, from academic critics to booty-shakers. Ramoran’s investment in the history of disco is soul-deep, moving effortlessly from paradise Garage to ‘60s and ‘70s identity politics, and back to The Hustle with a sense of play that never misses a partner’s step. And he’s got great partners to dance with, of course.

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