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Lee Jaffe, b.1950

Coloured Nigger Extravaganza1990

According to Crone and Moos, “Works such as ‘Coloured Nigger Extravaganza’, […] amplify the connotations of exploitation, the legacy of derision that irretrievably scarred and conditioned the life of the black performer in America. The motorized pole upon which the figurine – known as a “blackamoor”, black-as-a-moor – has been put, rotates the performer at painfully regular and uncontrollable intervals. Like the inside of a cuckoo clock, the “Nigger” – in this analogy, evidently reduced to an animal – spins while clapping his hands automatically for our amusement. A parody of blackness, the black, painted blacker than black, is in continual service to white desires for entertainment. With his legs awkwardly bent, he becomes a marionette, cleverly coaxing laughs out of white-folk. That this entire contraption is connected to a washbasin refers to that most rudimentary of folk instruments, the washtub bass, an ingenious product of poverty”*.

*Rainer Crone and David Moos, “On Uncommon Ground: The Tradition of the Other in the Art of Lee Jaffe”, in ‘Cordially Yours’, Lee Jaffe, Edition Cantz: 1992, pp 19-20

MediumBronze plated washtub with motorised black-a-moor
Dimensions194 cm (height)
Credit LineIMMA Collection: Purchase, 1993
Item NumberIMMA.435
Not on view
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Image Caption
Lee Jaffe, Coloured Nigger Extravaganza, 1990, Bronze plated washtub with motorised black-a-moor, 194 cm (height), Collection Irish Museum of Modern Art, Purchase, 1993

For copyright information, please contact the IMMA Collections team: info@imma.ie.

About the Artist

Lee Jaffe b.1950

American artist, photographer, filmmaker, musician, and producer Lee Jaffe studied American history and literature, history of art and modern philosophy at Penn State University. He played music with various New York groups, and then moved to Brazil where he began to make experimental films. When he returned to New York in 1971, he continued to make films. He moved to Jamaica in 1972 to manage Bob Marley and the Wailers. He took up painting in the 1980s. Jaffe’s artistic practice is marked by his commitment to social change, particularly in the denunciation of racism in relation to African-Americans. He has exhibited worldwide. — View Artist »