With an aim to eulogise Black Queer art, Vogue spoke to MQBMBQ’s founder Jordan Anderson about The Black Jigsaw Project
Many are the times we’ve heard the word “unprecedented” over the past year. Lockdown, it’s a whole other story. If anything, with restrictions imposed and affecting routines of us all, society has been enforced to grapple with the “new normal” and adopt new measures of adaptation. Besides, the cultural phenomena happened in 2020 have been fundamental for the fashion and culture industries, which are slowly embracing a safe route to change. On that note, to ease dialogues at this crucial time, MQBMBQ (My Queer Blackness, My Blackness), an initiative in a major push in the fight against discrimination of Black and Queer communities, teams up with two contemporary artists, partnering with GUCCI for the creation and launch of The Black Jigsaw Project. Curated by writer and activist Jordan Anderson, the initiative features the American illustrator Ggggrimes and Ghanaian painter Kwesi Botchway, who have produced custom work that has been reshaped into a limited edition of puzzles that are encased in boxes designed by Cary Fagan.
The work of both Botchway and Ggggrimes entitled Self Love, 2020 and Our Home, 2020 respectively, depict the wondrous beauty of Black Queer identity, seen through their personal perspectives. Moreover, the artists created animated characters that use fashion as a self-expressive tool, each featuring looks from GUCCI’s Epilogue collection. The artworks have then been produced into 384-piece jigsaw puzzles, enabling an interactive relationship between artist and spectator in a way that is not usually possible.
“It was important for us to end things with a project that combines the worlds of art and fashion while recalling the idea of youth in the form of a puzzle,” says Anderson. “In choosing to do this, it reminds one of the importance of representation, not only in adulthood but especially during juvenescence as often times who and what we see influences who we allow ourselves to become.”
The initiative includes 200 A3-sized puzzles, 100 of on sale online MQBMBQ’s website, from which all proceeds will go towards one of Italy’s oldest and most important Trans-centred organizations, Movimento Identità Trans (MIT), which provides support to young people and members of the LGBTQ+. This year, the initiative is going online, raising money for charity while spotlighting international LGBTQ+ artists and allies, but in a more accessible way and fitting with the times. “It was a labour of love having the opportunity to spotlight and platform Black artists,” concludes Anderson. “I often feel like those who do not have huge representation don’t get nearly enough exposure regardless of their unwavering talent, and this project meant doing this in an unconventional way that also created representation at the same time.”