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Incident No.51: Esau McGhee, Olde English




My sculptures of 40oz Malt Liquor cases are a monument to the 40oz and to it’s potential.  This monument serves as symbolic gesture to the death of the 40oz.  Although Malt Liquor has been able to evolve the 40oz has staged a valiant fight in an inevitable death.  These boxes serve as monuments in celebration, degradation or reflection on the impact of the 40oz.  There are few if any monuments as of present that represent ones future potential or accomplishments.  These are no different.  The 40oz has earned its money, damaged its futures and served as an expressway into urban consumption while transcending socio-economics i.e. race. 

These monuments are not only a response but are also a spinoff to Warhol’s Brillo Boxes and other works.  Discussions have placed Warhol’s work as primarily being from the “White Male Perspective”.  However these monuments allow for minorities and even non-minorities to discuss their personal experience with a product that has never served as a positive force on urban (non-white male) culture.  These monuments speak to the identity of desire and the identity of consumption.  The monuments are a direct reference to the corporate identity of power that resides within the product. 

A product that from its introduction has always used images of Black male power figures to dictate and define black male masculinity.  Be it Richard Roundtree from Shaft fame or Ice Cube of N.W.A. (Niggas With Attitudes) the individuals that have peddled these products have personified dominance against a force.  If it wasn’t images of aggressive or formerly aggressive black males then it was images of smooth black males referencing their sexual prowess and potential conquest. As Billie D. Williams said “…it works every time”. 

These monuments directly represent the potential of the community that uses the product referred to.  The boxes represent mobility, or the lack there of. They represent a level of acceptance, belonging and resource or the lack there of.  These monuments are to be viewed as limited in their volume and mobility, similar to that of the community in which they are found. 

The 40oz is dead
The community…is not