Ah New Riddim (2023), on view at Cuchifritos Gallery until September 16, is the third and final iteration of the multimedia series Constructs and Context Relativity (2019-2023) by interdisciplinary artist Christie Neptune (SMACT ’23). The installation and interactive documentary examine the spatial-temporal relationship of memory and place embedded within the implosion of dancehall culture in East Flatbush. The film utilizes 80’s dancehall archival footage, the quiet of black subjectivity, and concentric interactive storytelling to expound the relationship between black globality and dancehall in the American urban. In a pivot around her embodied experience as a black Caribbean American, Neptune considers the potential of black popular culture in marking space. Can the axiologies and stories oscillating at the margins mark the discourse of Western logic positioned at the center, and how might this marking register in visual representations of the urban?

In Ah New Riddim, concentric storytelling registers a cacophony of black perspectives. Neptune’s subjective experience in the American urban and the migration stories of community members in East Flatbush pivot around dancehall home video of Neptune’s father. Research, writing, and art produced from this series work to frame an artistic intelligence around Marked Axiological Shifts, a concept introduced by Neptune in a recent essay that defines a new language in visual culture grounded in African world-making cosmologies.

Marked Axiological Shifts are nonlinear and interactive artistic approaches that register a perpetual reimagining of black futures across space and time. It marks the decorum of modern cinema and visual culture with the conventions of African temporality to foster multiple planes of perspectives and fields of movement within concentric forward moving narratives mapped across moving images, sculpture, performance art, and print. In this exhibition, six channels of video interface with scaffolded speakers made of mirror, LED monitors, and wood. The speakers, a re-articulation of the Caribbean Sound System tradition, add further nuance to the filmic encounter in space. As material, screen, haptic surface, and sculptural unit, the sound system transmits information that doubles the spectator’s spatial perception. Upon contact, the spectator experiences temporal disjuncture caused by the collapse of their point of view, embodied form, and projected media upon the unit’s reflective surface. The gesture fosters multiple fields of viewing within a single expressive form, an element integral to African frameworks of temporality.

Ah New Riddim demonstrates the potential of black popular culture within representational practices that speaks across both dominant and marginal spatialities. This new framework of understanding considers the agency of marked axiological shifts within discursive urban space, an intervention that superimposes a wide aperture of black subjectivity(s) upon the narrow plane of the American urban.

This exhibition draws from Christie Neptune’s research paper “Ah New Riddim: A Marked (Black) Axiological Shift Across Space and Time” [READ HERE]

On Saturday, September 16 from 4-8p at Cuchifritos Gallery + Project Space, there will be a conversation about the development of Ah New Riddim with artist Christie Neptune followed by performances with special guests and invited audience participation.

Image credits: Christie Neptune, Ah New Riddim. Installation View, 5 August – 16 September 2023. Cuchifritos Gallery, New York. Photo: Hai Zhang.