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Howardena Pindell

Born in 1943, Howardena Pindell is an African-American painter, multimedia artist, video artist, curator and teacher. In the 1960s and 1970s, Howardena Pindell worked in abstract painting and sculpture, researching colors and textures, movement, light and notions of structure and order. From the 1980s onwards, she explored photo-collage, relief painting and video with an intense political content, linked to racism, feminism, violence, slavery and exploitation. Her work has been exhibited in numerous museums, including New York’s MOMA and the Guggenheim Museum.


Free, white and 21

by Howardena Pindell (1980, 12’)

In this video Pindell recounts a litany of racist experiences that she and her mother endured. She interrupts her narrative with actions like wrapping her head with a gauze bandage. Pindell alternately appears as a character in whiteface and a blond wig, who undercuts the artist’s testimony with disparaging remarks. “I had faced de facto censorship issues throughout my life as part of the system of apartheid in the United States,” Pindell, who worked as MoMA’s first Black woman curator during the 1970s, later recalled. “In the tape, I was bristling at the women’s movement as well as the art world.”