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Tariku Shiferaw: It’s a love thang, it’s a joy thang

 written by Charles Moore, The Brooklyn Rail, May, 2021

Tariku Shiferaw’s It’s a love thang, it’s a joy thang embodies Black joy—but not in the sense that people might think. In his latest exhibition, the artist pays homage to quotidian pleasures: those often referenced in the jazz era, a time when the greats sang about their daily lives. Their happiness, the Ethiopia-born, Los Angeles-raised artist explains, was not in the commoditization of their music or in the difficulties they overcame, but in the beauty of their expression. Now based in New York, Shiferaw presents a show of his own work, featured alongside handpicked poetry and a stunning sound piece, emulating a love song, and showcasing the small joys on which a person relies to overcome. There’s a powerful playlist to match, bringing Shiferaw’s work to life, featuring Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, Aaliyah and Tyler, the Creator, Solange and Kendrick Lamar, along with many others. Each of his pieces, it’s worth noting, is inspired by one of the musical artists in the abovementioned playlist, adding a sense of interconnectedness to the concept of Black joy.


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Installation view: Tariku Shiferaw, It’s a love thang, it’s a joy thang, Galerie Lelong & Co., New York, 2021.


Courtesy of Galerie Lelong & Co., New York.

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