New York

Gary Simmons

Metro Pictures

Popular culture has long been one of this country’s leading exports. A designer label for vibrancy, inventiveness, and creativity pressed into double duty as a trademark of freedom and individualism, it is a means of marketing American identity both at home and abroad. Contemporary popular culture is a euphemism not only for youth culture, but for African-American youth culture. While we might feel cozy enough with the sanitized images MTV packages, there remains plenty of surplus anxiety over the radicality of today’s youth, particularly when we notice that we are no longer counted among them. And when their lyrics, lingo, and looks transform the face of popular culture, like it or not, we’ve got a problem if we can’t at least interpret it—let alone fully relate to it.

All of this pertains to Gary Simmons’ recent exhibition of paintings and photographs, works that tug at those definitions

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