‘Ye or Nay?, 2020
Online game for two players displayed on computers; wallpaper; and two framed printed portraits
Courtesy of the artist
“Blackness contains multitudes; not just between individuals, but even within the same person. Kanye is such an interesting figure to me because his suffering is transparent. I feel like he’s been unable to resolve the cognitive dissonance between his individual privilege and Black folks’ structural oppression…”
A.M. Darke (he/him/his/she/her/hers) modeled this online game after the classic board game “Guess Who?” In both, players take turns trying to guess the other player’s character by asking questions about their identity and appearance, such as, “Is it a man?” or “Are they wearing a hat?” In Darke’s game, however, all of the characters are Black male celebrities, and many are Kanye West at various stages of his career, as indicated by the pun in the work’s title.
As a fan of West, Darke is fascinated by the transformation of his persona from genius Black activist to troubled Black capitalist. Confronting West’s multiple identities alongside those of other successful Black men in this game may prompt us to consider how Black masculinity is defined today, as well as how it differs from Black femininity. While playful on its surface, the game also puts us in the position of describing, categorizing, and “eliminating” Black characters, in a way that parallels how databases and algorithms identify, track, and discriminate against Black people and other marginalized groups.
This game is also freely available for you to experience on your own devices by visiting yeornay.cool.
The Albright-Knox thanks Meibohm Fine Arts for their contribution of frames for this installation.