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