View of “Rashid Johnson: Message to Our Folks,” 2012. Photo: Nathan Keay.

Rashid Johnson

View of “Rashid Johnson: Message to Our Folks,” 2012. Photo: Nathan Keay.

IN THE PAST YEAR, Rashid Johnson has received both high honors and the occasional low blow from various quarters of the art world for his wildly referential, formally promiscuous, and increasingly slick conceptual practice. His current exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art, “Message to Our Folks”—titled after the 1969 Art Ensemble of Chicago album and curated by Julie Rodrigues Widholm—thus offers a prime opportunity to consider the contradictory logics undergirding the artworks that have led one critic to dismiss his practice as symptomatic of a generational penchant for “rehashing received ideas about ideas,” and others to breathlessly hail him as “the prince of post-black.”

As that moniker recalls, Johnson first came to national attention at the age of twenty-three thanks to his inclusion in Thelma Golden’s landmark 2001 Studio Museum in Harlem exhibition, “

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