Hank Willis Thomas

Hank Willis Thomas
b. Plainfield, New Jersey, 1976

Intentionally Left Blanc, 2012
Screen print on retro-reflective paper

61 x 41 x 1.8 inches

Edition 4 of 5, with 1 artist proof
Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York

Note: Only one screen print is shown. The roto-reflective paper looks like a white, negative image in natural light; the image only becomes visibly legible in a photograph taken with flash.

Hank Willis Thomas is known for his work using appropriated images and the seductive language of advertising to comment on persistent inequality and the bankrupt, commodity-driven aspirations promoted to African American youth. Though it recalls previous works employing credit card company slogans, Intentionally Left Blanc takes a more oblique approach, quoting instead the foreign-seeming jargon of credit applications, which often include pages that are “intentionally left blank.”

The work equally refers to the role of media in framing reality through spectacle. Printed on a special retro-reflective paper, the image in Intentionally Left Blanc—an impassioned black audience—only becomes visibly legible when exposed to a flash. Under the fast-paced influence of contemporary media, the meaning of a situation is determined in an instant and often subject to misapprehension—as in this case, in which it is difficult to quickly tell whether the crowd pictured is enthusiastic or agitated.

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