Malchijah Hoskins ’22 on his Case Center gallery piece – The Skidmore News
Malchijah Hoskins is a senior at Skidmore College with a major in sociology and a minor in art, intergroup relations, and media and film studies. He recently donated his art installation “Forty Lashes of a Silver Tongue” to the community, which is currently on display in the Case Center Gallery, which will close Wednesday, December 8th.
Hoskins was able to make the installation possible with the help of the Black Cultural Club and Organization at Skidmore College, Ujima, from the name of the Swahili word translating to “collective work and responsibility”. They helped by sponsoring the finances of the prints and giving Hoskins the space to give an artist talk on the work. So, on November 16, Hoskins gave a talk to Ujima club members about her play, “Forty Lashes of a Silver Tongue”, as well as the work’s influences and its connection to historical black traditions.
Hoskins’ artistic endeavors are influenced by Gloria Jean Watkins, also known by her pen name, “bell hooks,” an African-American author, teacher, feminist and social activist. In particular, Hoskins says Watkins shapes his “radical imagination” on how he views art. In addition, he communicates that rituals are a crucial part of his art. Defining rituals can be complex and manifest differently for Hoskins. For example, in one of his media projects where he interviewed several people, Hoskins burned incense before starting each interview because this ritual has sentimental and cultural value to him.
Forty eyelashes from a silver tongue
Hoskins sees art as a tool to center “subjugated knowledge”, the knowledge of those who have been marginalized and silenced; he claims he works across disciplines and mediums to encourage mass awareness and literacy. In her artist statement, Hoskins explained that her work “draws on the conceptual frameworks explored in the speech by writer, feminist, and civil rights activist Audre Lorde,” The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action. Anti-black stereotypes are coded. in the installation’s questions or statements, which, in Hoskins’ words, illustrates how “the culture of domination takes hold in our language … can speak about our shared pain and change our language to release it.”
Hoskins’ installation features fourteen large digital prints that encourage the viewer to practice their language as they read each sentence offered, as well as move their tongue in the directions of the shapes presented in the adjacent print.
The fourteen digital prints appropriate “The Way of the Cross”, a series of images originating from the Catholic faith, which connect with Hoskins’ experiences with religion and his attendance at a Catholic school from kindergarten. The language of “forty lashes” in the title of the installation is a Biblical reference to Scripture, Deuteronomy 25: 3, which reads as follows:
“Forty stripes that he can give it and not go over; lest if he overtake him and strike him above them with many blows, your brother may not be despised before you.
This scripture has existed in several versions of the Bible, contextually discussing the themes of mercy and fairness. Scripture states that if the person inflicting the blows on someone exceeds forty of them, then that person should be “despised”. In his lecture, Hoskins discusses the irony of this quote as he thinks it presents the idea that there is a certain amount of violence tolerable until the threshold is reached where someone should be humiliated. for its violence. It can be considered quite revealing of American history with its colonization and enslavement of Africans, and linked to the oppression of blacks today.
Each displayed print has a black background; while some are black with shapes on it, others boast of a racialized language that has continued throughout history and to the present day.
The first impression that sets the precedent for the rest of the pieces contains bold sentences with the message “Exercise Your Tongue”, which is repeated over eleven times. The phrase is written “Exorcise” for ten spellings in black letters on a black background, while “Exercise” is located once in the center in white letters on a black background.