FORUM

  • Hilary Northcraft

CHRISTOPHER PAUL JORDAN CREATES A SPACE TO CELEBRATE, REFLECT, MOURN AND REJOICE

The section of this website entitled 'Savoir Faire' creates space to highlight "Black Art Shaping Community" and it feels imperative to include Christopher Paul Jordan and his sculptural artwork andimgonnamisseverybody within these (web)pages. Located in the main plaza of the AIDS Memorial Pathway on Capitol Hill in Seattle, just a short walk from Cal Anderson Park—which was named after Washington's first openly gay state legislator who died in 1995 of AIDS-related complications—andimgonnamisseverybody succeeds in its mission to create, as Chris says on his website, "a portal into places of radical gathering, hospitality, celebration, and care that Black/Indigenous, trans/queer, displaced/invisibilized communities at the front lines of the HIV AIDS crisis have forged to take care of our own."


Christopher's 20 x 20 aluminum, bronze, and steel speakers — created to represent historic speakers found in historic LGBTQ spaces and at protests and rallies in Seattle and beyond — act as witnesses for the gathering of generations and connections made across history. By tilting what could be seen as an HIV positive + sign on its side to create an "X," Jordan wanted to shift the conversation about HIV from "individual status and disclosure to collective health: What if we looked at the crisis with a holistic lens, understanding how intersecting identities and overlapping crises of displacement and HIV criminalization affect the most marginalized?" (Crosscut, June 2021). As well as being recognized as a symbol of love and the unknown, the "X" layout was also chosen as a representation of the Dikenga, a West African spiritual mark used by African descendants across America to act as a compass, mapping pathways through the afterlife.


After the Black+Queer joy-affirming dance celebration held for the opening of the AIDS Memorial's centerpiece in August, and the additional dance parties that have followed, Jordan has indeed created a space that is shaping the Black community in a beautiful way. As we honor those we have lost and those we continue to fight for amidst the ongoing health emergencies that face our community, public art like andimgonnamisseverybody (in case you didn't catch the reference, the title comes from a refrain in the Bone Thugs-N-Harmony song “Tha Crossroads,” a tribute to rap artist Eazy-E who died from AIDS-related complications) is transformative and necessary. Thank you to Chris, and all artists out there creating work that provides cultural space for communities to be heard, seen, and express themselves.




For more on Christopher Paul Jordan and his art visit: https://chrispauljordan.com/