Azikiwe Mohammed

Even progress has its costs

United States

“A place of togetherness”

“Multimedia artist and photographer Azikiwe Mohammed makes work that straddles the line between playful exuberance and serious social commentary—in fact, it holds that line extremely well,” critic Terence Trouillout has written. The artist works in formats including painting, sculpture, photography, and performance. An ongoing project posits a fictional American city as a safe space for black people; he calls it New Davonhaime, whose name mashes up those of five U.S. cities with the greatest density of black residents. He has several times presented a performance/installation work, Jimmy’s Thrift of New Davonhaime, in which, in wig and costume, he mans a shop stocked with bric-a-brac, some of it created by the artist and focusing on African-American lives, as a way to actualize this “place of togetherness.” While traveling the country to buy these items, he often shoots portraits of those he meets on the road, as a way to counter what he sees as a glut of imagery of black people dying or posing for mugshots.

Among his many other projects are the audio work “My First Time,” which presents recordings of black people discussing when they first realized that they were black, and a radio series at Clocktower Radio, “Your Boy Black Helmet,” that builds on his lively career as a DJ.

Since earning a BFA at Bard College, in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, Mohamed has mounted solo shows at a number of New York venues, including the Knockdown Center, Rush Arts, and Sensei. He has appeared in group shows at MoMA PS1 in New York, Charlie James Gallery in Los Angeles, Antenna Gallery in New Orleans, and many other sites.