los-angeles

Meleko Mokgosi, Bread, Butter, and Power (detail), 2018, oil, acrylic, bleach, graphite, photo transfer, and permanent marker on canvas, twenty panels, this one 108 x 72".

Meleko Mokgosi

Fowler Museum at the University of California

Meleko Mokgosi, Bread, Butter, and Power (detail), 2018, oil, acrylic, bleach, graphite, photo transfer, and permanent marker on canvas, twenty panels, this one 108 x 72".

In a recent essay, theorist Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak articulates one of the double-edged cruelties of oppression. “Crimes of identity are always collective,” she writes, “although individuals suffer grotesquely.” The formulation applies broadly, but Spivak penned those words with gender—“our first instrument of abstraction”—in mind, positioning the division of the sexes as prologue to the insidious ideologies of nationalism, colonialism, and religion.

Spivak’s writing features prominently in the panoramic painting cycle Bread, Butter, and Power, 2018, installed at the Fowler Museum at the University of California, Los Angeles. The latest chapter in Meleko Mokgosi’s ongoing series “Democratic Intuition,” begun in 2013, this group of twenty-one canvases centers on gender, and on feminism more specifically, brilliantly interpolating quiet scenes of the everyday into the

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