Public Parking
A journal for storytelling, arguments, and discovery through tangential conversations.
Toward a Phenomenology of Blackness with Paul Stephen Benjamin
Thursday, December 7, 2023 | Mary Fellios
A descent into darkness both literally and allegorically accompanied Atlanta-based artist Paul Stephen Benjamin’s recent solo exhibition, Black Summer, at Efraín López gallery in New York City. The nascent gallery’s small and windowless subterranean space appropriately housed the products of Benjamin’s material and cultural research on the manifold meanings of blackness as a color and state of being, which together form the broad, elusive crux of his conceptual practice. Working across media including photography, painting, video, and sculpture, Benjamin’s corpus bridges integral moments of Black history and art history with an operative aesthetics of blackness—the ways in which blackness circulates as an available material, such as commercial black paints, blacklight, or, for instance, the ‘Atlanta Black’ mortar in the corner of his work space that Benjamin gestured towards during a remote studio visit.