@ The Luminary, St. Louis, MO, September 2-29, 2016

Through capturing the existing relationship between still and subtitle, Beverly Hills poC re-orients the plot of the Hollywood film Beverly Hills Cop (1984).  The narrative shifts from the story of Detroit police detective Axel Foley who travels to Beverly Hills to investigate the murder of his friend, into a journey of a Detroit artist attempting to gain access to the Los Angeles art scene.  The work interrogates the condition of difference in both art and world contexts: does Axel meet resistance because of his incongruous visual identity, or his transgressive means of investigation.  Likewise, does an artist of color face critical limitations based on perceptions of their identity, or their use of marginalized subject matter.  Here lies a humorous parallel between detective work and artistic ascendance, through the acts of subversion,  failure, ingenuity and the forming of new relationships.

Eddie Murphy as the protagonist in both of these fictions is notable because of his role as a black man infiltrating dominant culture, using the medium of comedic film as a platform for social critique.   Using the humor of juxtaposing disagreeable entities, he carries the rawness of Detroit law enforcement to stir up the posh conservatism of Beverly Hills.  Likewise, in his subsequent film Coming to America (1987), he stages the dynamic between African and African-American, demystifying primitive stigmas, while highlighting a nuanced distinction of black identity in each context.  Each of these efforts, through comic relief, serve a social function.

The project was included in Empowerpoint curated by Arts.Black, and lives on Instagram @beverlyhillspoc

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Empowerpoint installation view. Photo courtesy of The Luminary

 

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