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Dawolu Jabari Anderson makes Saltworks his dojo (1)

Through an adventurous combination of kung fu heroism, Civil Rights struggle, pop culture humor, and political self-empowerment, Dawolu Jabari Anderson’s current exhibit at Saltworks Gallery creates a fictional story that’ll make you think twice about real-world history.

Ten Panthers of Kwangtung begins with Anderson's “Frederick Douglas Self-Defense Manual,” a series of drawings of six fictitious fighting techniques secretly developed by slaves on Southern plantations. The crinkled, artificially aged pages each bear a ridiculous title, such as "2nd Technique: Fetch'n Calamus Root and Chinkapins" and "6th Technique: Duck'n Behind dis Here Oak so'as Patter-rollers Don't Sees Me." The turns of phrase poke fun at stereotypes of black speech, and situate Anderson's Asian fantasy within a familiar black history. The figure in "3rd Technique: Negro Picks Cotton" strikes a praying mantis pose; his fingers gather to a deadly point, turning a lowly plantation chore into a proud weapon of liberation.

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(Photo Courtesy Dawolu Jabari Anderson)



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