Photo Credit: Guido Villalba Portel

Because They Believe in Unicorns, Antoine Williams (Chapel Hill, NC)
Southern Constellations Fellow. July 2016. Installation view. Surplus WWII military tents, wood, thread, marker, acrylic, collage on museum wall.

Williams creates his version of a myth in Because They Believe in Unicorns by suspending a figure in mid-air who begs the question: “Am I being elevated out of darkness or hung from the ceiling?”

Against the walls of a former boarding room, the sculpture made from WWII surplus casts a shadow onto visible and invisible imagery of vintage Time and Life magazines. The sanded-over pigment covering the pictures of white housewives and scenes that romanticize war is Haint Blue: a shade containing cultural and spiritual influences particular to the American South.

Unicorns is a response to Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow which expands on the concept of colorblindness feeding systems of social injustice. Alexander refers to the mass incarceration of Black men through “The War on Drugs,” a policy introduced in the 1970s by the Nixon administration still in place today. This war that is invisible to some discourages the consumption of drugs, disproportionately criminalizes Black communities, and allows for dangerous racial indifference.