Over the past two years, Black History Month Florence initiated a dialogue with Jordan Anderson, a multifaceted, young creative based in Milan.
The exchange was originally born from a conversation around the artist’s interest in highlighting a series of Black figures from Italian history by publishing an article in Italian Vogue with biographical sketches of Alessandro Sinigaglia, Domenico Mondelli, Giuseppina Margaret Bakhita and Leone Jacovacci, accompanied by portraits by Milan-based painter Jem Perucchini. The figures in the paintings illustrating the 2019 article Italian Beauty. Gli eroi dimenticati (Forgotten heroes) shift from warm to cool, evocative of the newness of the dawn and wrestle with the artist’s trademark speckled surface, which feels like the grainy interference of the photographic print, dust on a lens or a veil that we can see through with limited clarity.
The dialogue with Anderson expanded with an invitation to be one of the researchers tethered to the pop-up Black cultural center The Recovery Plan at the Museo MA*GA in Gallarate curated by BHMF. In Fall 2020, the artists from the first edition of the YGBI Research Residence, dedicated to Afro-descendent creatives in or from Italy and under 35 years of age, worked with researchers on subjects that amplified the palimpsest of Blackness in Italy. Jordan Anderson was paired with Emmanuel Yoro, an interdisciplinary artist. Together they developed a reflection through a sculpture and text on the history of Jerry Masslo, a South African refugee who was murdered in 1989 in Villa Literno, in Campania. Masslo is a figure with whom we can broaden the spectrum of time in which we imagine the contemporary context for Italian anti-racist movements.
Anderson’s practice consistently explores new potential for collaboration and exchange, tirelessly advancing much needed reflections that reject many of the blockish frameworks that are prevalent in Italy. One instance of this is the evocative platform My Queer Blackness, My Black Queerness, which he established a year ago. The platform encompasses fundraising campaigns supporting Black trans-centered organizations, a journal charting a broad and complex self-narration paired with artistic photography and, most recently, a residency in collaboration with Villa Lena and sponsored by Bulgari. With a chapter dedicated to The Queer Black Italian Experience and three trans-disciplinary artists selected from an open call for forthcoming residencies in Tuscany, Anderson’s work is invitation to dig deeper and to engage in pluralized meanings and a nuance rendered most accurately through the fluidity of self narration.