Issues of National Identity, Migration and Social Justice

Ana Moriary for Widewalls

The Jablonka Maruani Mercier Gallery is pleased to present the Hank Willis Thomas exhibition for the first time in Belgium. An extensive selection of the artist’s oeuvre will be presented for the viewers to enjoy. The New York-based conceptual artist focuses his work on the themes of commodity, media, popular culture, and identity, and often includes recognizable images in his work, many of which are familiar icons from advertising and branding campaigns. This exhibition will address the same problems Europeans are facing in the light of the immigration crisis and their integration into the society. Hank Willis Thomas’ exhibition will surely invite the viewers to engage in a lively dialogue and inspire them to make positive changes in their communities.


Hank Willis Thomas – To Whom It May Concern​


Hank Willis Thomas’ work tackles the building and the use of race in America, and at the same time, withstands this categorization. He has stated that he could be a black artist, but simultaneously, so much more than that. His opinion is that all people are a home to multiple identities at once. For Thomas, the most absurd thing is that the blackness was not invented by black people, but by Europeans with a mercantile interest in dehumanizing the black community. He added that some five hundred years ago, there were no black people in Africa, they were just regular people. A big part of the advertising industry, he says, is the success built on its capacity to fortify the generalizations grown around race, ethnicity, and gender. Even though these generalizations are mostly false, they can nevertheless be entertaining at times, sometimes true, and most of the times – horrifying.