In artist Rashaad Newsome’s new video artwork, King of Arms, the artist dresses as a modern day hip-hop herald and leads a march through the streets of his native New Orleans, as Mardi Indians and dancers vogue and march to the beat. This scene perfectly embodies Newsome’s solo show at the SCAD Museum of Art.
Orders of Chivalry blendship-hop, and heraldry—the art of conferring through symbols of power, rank, and status that dates back to the 12th century—to explore the power of visual culture. "It consists of works that are part of a five-year project in which I use images from popular culture that speak to fantasy, human impulse and America’s capitalistic sensibility,” Newsome tells The Creators Project. “I admit my relationship with working with these images has been a complicated one, but rather than turn away from them, I embrace the beautiful and seductive objects that communicate the capitalist, imperialist, white supremacist, patriarchal structure we all live in.”
“The show is literally centered around the video "trilogy" that includes Pursuivant, Herald, and King of Arms. I use the hierarchy of officers of arms as a narrative arc in the work,” says Newsome, who was made an honorary pursuivant by the Windsor Herald, Sir William George Hunt. “In some ways, the videos are performances that act as these sort of elaborate visual cues of shifts in the work. In the middle of the room there is a cube, which viewers have to procession around to see the videos as they play consecutively. On the final wall of the cube, viewers can see objects I acquired during my journey from Pursuivant to King of Arms.
The video works track the ways in which hip-hop and vogue culture represent contemporary heraldic processes that were established through bling and “vogue battles” for power within those communities. Some of the collage works use the dome of cathedrals to speak to the ways in which even architecture is a representation of status symbols.
Below, watch an exclusive clip from Newsome’s King of Arms, and see photos from the Orders of Chivalry exhibition:
Orders of Chivalry is on display through October 4, 2015 at SCAD Museum of Art. For more information, click here.