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September 28, 2017
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Question Bridge Returns to OMCA

This landmark artwork returns to OMCA as a new acquisition

By OMCA Staff

The opening of Question Bridge: Black Males on September 29, 2017 at the Oakland Museum of California marks two special occasions. First, a return after five years: This is the second time that the artwork has been shown at OMCA. Second, a new home: We’re proud to announce that OMCA has acquired Question Bridge for its collection—a nod to the significance of this important dialogue about the Black male experience in America today.

Directed by African-American artists Chris Johnson and Hank Willis Thomas in collaboration with Bayeté Ross Smith and Kamal Sinclair, Question Bridge presents black men talking about themes important to their lives today. When OMCA presented Question Bridge in 2012, the exhibit was acclaimed as one of the Bay Area’s Top 2012 Exhibitions by the San Francisco Chronicle. It’s been exhibited at over 30 museums, festivals, and institutions since its premiere, and OMCA is proud to be one of three museums—along with the Brooklyn Museum and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture—acquiring this national treasure. 

The videos feature interviews with over 160 black men representing a wide range of geographic, economic, generational, educational, and social backgrounds. To create Question Bridge, the four collaborators traveled throughout the United States to towns and cities including Oakland, San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Birmingham, Atlanta, New Orleans, and Philadelphia, creating 1,600 video exchanges along the way.  

Through this thoughtful and intimate installation, the artwork simulates a face-to-face conversation between the men, with you, the visitor, in the middle as both witness and participant. Edited in this way, the videos form an organic, stream-of-consciousness communal dialogue, as the individual men pose new questions and answer from their own perspectives. Throughout the interviews, topics of family, love, interracial relationships, community, education, and wisdom emerge—along with the vulnerability that such deeply felt issues evoke. 

In a chapel-like installation, Question Bridge inspires reflection and conversation, and is deeply moving. The work is a platform for listening, and hopes spur dialogue, ideally to defy harmful stereotypes about black male identity in American society.  

“This project brings the full spectrum of what it means to be ‘black’ and ‘male’ in America to the forefront,” the artists’ statement shares. Through depicting the simulated conversations between the individual men, “Blackness ceases to be a simple, monochromatic concept.” In addition to the video installation, the artwork hosts a user generated website, QuestionBridge.com, which invites black males across the country to respond and participate. 

Ready to join the conversation?
Question Bridge: Black Males opens Friday, September 29 with special programming during Friday Nights @ OMCA, beginning at 5 pm. Check out spoken word performances by Tongo Eisen Martin, James Cagney, and Porsche Kelly at 6:30 pm, and music from hip-hop/jazz/soul ensemble SoL DeVeloPMeNT at 7 pm. Based out of Oakland, the artists and educators of SoL DeVeloPMeNT use the power of music to help convey positive messages about improving self and improving society—an inspiring complement to herald in the return and acquisition of Question Bridge to OMCA. 


Question Bridge: Black Males is a fiscally sponsored project of the Bay Area Video Coalition and supported in part by a grant from the Open Society Institute: Campaign for Black Male Achievement, The California Endowment, The Tribeca Film Institute, the LEF Foundation, The Center for Cultural Innovation, and the California College of the Arts. The project was supported by the Sundance Institute’s New Frontier Story Lab.