"Black Is Beautiful"
De Nieuwe Kerk, Amsterdam.
July 26-October 26, 2008
As you enter the “Black Is Beautiful” exhibition in the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam, the first words that you read are “Black people are attractive.” These words produced in me, at any rate, a reaction akin to that I used to have when my teacher’s chalk squeaked on the blackboard, or he ran his nail down the blackboard because his chalk had dwindled away to nearly nothing.
Methinks the curator doth protest too much. After all, would he have have written “Slovaks are attractive” or “Amputees are attractive”? There is a whistling-in-the-dark quality about the words that would not entirely have pleased or convinced me if I had happened to be black. The next words are, if anything, even less reassuring: “Artists have known this for a long time.”