10 March 2021 

A Spectrum of Blackness, Oral History Project

A Spectrum of Blackness

A Spectrum of Blackness, part of the Museum of Modern Art’s ‘Reconstructions: Architecture and Blackness In America’ exhibition, is a project by Germane Barnes that acknowledges the broad possibilities of origin, and therefore of cultural influence present in the distinctively Black city of Miami.

Miami’s built environment has long been an embodiment of ethnic sediments given it’s diverse peoples; a product of many migrations, creating a unique cultural legacy. While Miami had not yet been incorporated as a city during the Reconstruction era, from the town’s earliest days Blackness—whether self-identified or designated by others— determined which spaces in the area would be subject to restrictions or be potentially liberating.

The project mines these histories of Miami’s Black ethnicities, and both de- & re- constructs their suppressed narratives through the use of multi-dimensional digital and analog collage processes. The website, designed by Adam D Thompson, allows you to explore a series of oral histories and interviews conducted to understand the broad possibilities of Miami’s Blackness. You can also respond to the investigative prompts of Blackness and leave your own voicemail.

Blackness constructed Miami’s physical and cultural landscapes. Its multitudes shape and configure the fabric of the city in contrasting measures. In this manner, Miami has always been both map and metaphor; a city through which the Black experience is revealed by the subtle yet distinctive spectrum of Blackness that defines us.

A Spectrum of Blackness necessitates the understanding that Blackness is not singular. Blackness is sensorial. It is the tactility of our bodies, the optical revelation of our skin, and the auditory complexity of our languages assembled with accents and pronunciations foreign to non-Blacks. The infinity of the city’s expressions of Blackness collide, creating murky layers that both signify a malleability and an indeterminacy that render Blackness blurry.



A Consul_Co project.
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