Each piece invites us to consider what we reveal and obscure, what is affirmed and what is erased, and what tensions linger between these poles.
Here, we offer an exercise in shapeshifting.
As such, many of the artists we highlight are performers—experts in this particular art and its nuances. From Danielle Deadwyler’s emotive tributes to the labor of Black women (the heart of an interview with Jasmin Hernandez), to Lily Gladstone’s meticulous crafting of character and Indigenous agency in Killers of the Flower Moon (teased out in conversation with Kelli Weston), to Colman Domingo’s excavations of queer Black history and so much more, as catalogued by Tre Johnson.
These experiments in imaging and imagining also stretch beyond the screen: from Abigail Lucien’s sculptural and spiritual offerings to James Ijames’s transformation of Hamlet into a queer, Black coming-of-age story set in the South with Fat Ham. Meanwhile, A. E. Hunt surmises the ways archival producers are navigating the increasingly corporatized nature of public memory, exploring the systems that shape our perceptions on both personal and societal levels. Put another way, if our previous issue, the dreams issue, asked us, “Where do we go when we dream?,” this sixth iteration of Seen seems to ask, “How do we become what we dream?”
As always, this one was a team effort. Unending gratitude to our contributing editors Jasmine Weber, Kavita Rajanna, Yasmine Espert, and Shauna Swartz, and to our art director, the peerless Raquel Hazell, for reviewing and refining with us. Many, many thanks to our thought partners—the writers, artists, and designers who filled this issue with curiosity—and of course, to the whole team at BlackStar Projects, including Maori Karmael Holmes, Imran Siddiquee, Swabreen Bakr, Leo Brooks, Farrah Rahaman, Akili Davis, Autumn Faith Valdez, Mariam Dembele, Pablo Alarcon Jr., and Justin Chance.
—Dessane & Mari,