There is never a shortage of online controversies that catch folks’ attention. Recently, a racy photo shoot depicting several Black women “worshiping” a White woman posted to Instagram has turned heads.
The African-American women are shown standing below the White woman, who is seemingly propped up as a savior-type figure. The depiction, along with the women’s nudity, has stirred unrest on Twitter, with several folks saying that the portrait sent a strong racially charged message.
For viewers unsure of what self-taught visual composer Beenie Rose, 24, was aiming for with the recent work, he offered some insight.
“There is no back story,” he said to Yahoo Lifestyle, implying that the portrait’s meaning is subject to interpretation.“It’s a truth and a pantheon of [the] perspective of society.”
Considering the image’s shock factor, Rose wasn’t surprised by the online debate. “We knew it was going to happen,” he said. “My girl had pulled me to the side, and she’s like, ‘Are you sure you want to take this picture?’ I was like ‘F*** yeah. It’s brilliant. It is a brilliant image!’”
The idea for the photo came from another person, he also confessed to Yahoo. More than 80,000 of Rose’s Instagram followers can see the image and other graphic ones on his page. His art has spurred controversy before now, with his risk-taking concepts.
Perhaps Rose has chosen Instagram, like many artists, to allow his work to be instantly accessible to his audiences. Social media allows folks, particularly people of color whose ancestors didn’t have full access to art or were excluded from viewings during certain historical periods, feel like they have a real seat at the art world table. They feel like they have a voice in critiquing art, an opinion that can reach millions in just a few seconds.
Online, folks can see that they are represented in social conversations about art. They can join a community to share their love and criticisms of paintings, photos and more. They can find comfort when their opinions are affirmed, and they can quickly reach out to artists to talk about their work.
Rose’s ability to stir wide-reaching debates proves that Instagrammable art is changing the way that people view and talk about work.