HOOD Tales (cont.)


I adore Street Literature. Urban Fiction.  Hood Tales.  However it’s named, I am beguiled by the candy-coated covers featuring buxom bootied beauties, hardcore handsomes, luxury sedans, dice, roses, champagne, racks on stacks on racks, city skylines and tropical silhouettes.  Considering books as sculptural objects, I’ve created cover facsimiles that mimic the design and melodramatic text of these works.  Urban fiction becomes an artistic model that I can manipulate as pure artifice.  I’ve been so successful at these experiments that it is difficult to pinpoint the unreality of their existence as published works.  I would like to present a range of these tomes in the same manner of the neighborhood book hustler (albeit at a much reduced price), because the pages of these perfect binding paperbacks will be blank, save for an invitation on the first page to a “book club meeting” at the Macon Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library or The Brooklyn Historical Society.  The “book club meeting” would serve as a space to speak about the possibilities of the story proposed by the back cover prose, or it could exist as a purely social experience or perhaps even as a location for sharing the user-generated content located within the “books”.  Also because my most engaged community activities are ultimately self-serving, I’d like to recruit models for another series of “covers”.  ChromaGreen background on fleek, and made unique by the experience of the “book clubs”, these performances could render my search for high res Google images obsolete and provide a stylized platform for collecting oral histories.

Urban fiction will be deemed important through the passage of time.  But I believe it is significant in the contemporary context.  Many of these (actual) works are self-published and tell stories particular to my community. By using a shared language and drawing from collective memory, they reveal modes of self-determination that are not commonly celebrated in the mainstream publishing world.  This project seeks to acknowledge the beauty of this kind of storytelling, explicitly. I worked as a reading recovery teacher for an elementary school and recognized that many of my students were disenfranchised readers partly because they weren’t exposed to books as valuable objects.  I would like to exaggerate this conceit of the book-as-precious, for the adults in their lives. Using the ratchet fable we can create experiences of social value and collective story-making.  

Kenya Robinson