Steffani Jemison and Jamal Cyrus: Alpha's Bet Is Not Over Yet
Collaborative Exhibition

Exhibition documentation:
New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, 2011
Royal Danish Academy of Fine Art, Copenhagen, 2012
Juxtaposition Arts, Minneapolis, 2013-14

“Alpha’s Bet Is Not Over Yet” is an exhibition, reading room, and discussion space inspired by the energy and politics of radical, independent Black periodicals published during the first half of the twentieth century. Borne out of “Book Club” (2010), a think tank and reading group organized by artists Steffani Jemison and Jamal Cyrus for Project Row Houses, Houston, “Alpha’s Bet” investigates approaches to language, the written word, self-education, and democratic distributions of knowledge. The project draws upon two hundred years of dialogues that span the spiritual, pedagogic, visionary, and populist. These perspectives are reflected in the exhibition’s title that paraphrases theorist and artist Rammellzee (1960-2010), who argued that language as a social agreement is not a passive vessel or known quantity but rather possesses the potential to reimagine structures of power.

The centerpiece of the project is an interactive newsstand display featuring complete reproductions of more than 500 issues of Black periodicals published between 1902 and 1940, including The Crisis: A Record of the Darker Races; The Messenger: World’s Greatest Negro Monthly; Opportunity: A Journal of Negro Life; and The Crusader. The installation is designed to encourage browsing of the materials and provides space for both concentrated reading and conversation.