Mohamed Bourouissa Documents America’s Cowboys—Black, Urban Ones

THE DAILY PIC: At the Studio Museum in Harlem, Bourouissa gives us a different view of horsemanship.

THE DAILY PIC (#1721): If there were ever a time when America needed to jettison stereotypes about its minorities, now would be it. That jettisoning is underway now in a little show called “Black Cowboy,” in the basement of the Studio Museum in Harlem. (For some reason, a lot of the institution’s best shows have been underground recently.)

The show’s title is simply descriptive: It is a mini-survey of images of African-Americans who have an interest in horses, as many of them always have. Hollywood movies could have been made about the Wild West’s many black cowboys—but of course never were.

Today’s pic is a still from the exhibition’s most compelling piece: A two-channel video called Horse Day, by the French-Algerian artist Mohamed Bourouissa. It documents and riffs on an urban rodeo, of sorts, put on with the artist’s help by the longstanding Fletcher Street Urban Riding Club, headquartered in one of the rougher corners of Philadelphia. The most shocking thing about the piece, after a moment’s reflection, is the fact that its footage would have been utterly unshocking had it been set in the suburbs, somewhere out on Philadelphia’s lily-white Main Line. Change the color and income of an American protagonist, and every one of our expectations changes. (Courtesy the artist and Kamel Mennour, Paris)

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