"Obadike Sells his Blackness" August21 Aida Croal "Blackness For Sale" August 21

The Star (Chicago) Nnedi Okorafor "Talk About Selling Out" August 16

Project Description

Groundnut as Butter Proposal


Project Description


Groundnut as Butter critiques the idea of the commercial identity/culture web portal. This project is a constellation of related sites that address the industrialization of the peanut as a metaphor for the manufacture of Black Diaspora culture on the web. Each site within the larger web portal tells the story of the early twentieth century transformation of the peanut from a low value crop to a highly processed, All-American product. Groundnut as Butter is a tactical media project that will produce real peanut culture artifacts. With this work we ask the questions: Can the web create a Diaspora? and What role does the identity/culture portal play in our understanding of Diaspora?


The sections of the site are: Groundnut Stew (a mix of interviews with peanut farmers and factory workers from around the United States with uploaded sounds, images, and field notes), The Agriculturalist (an opera about the invention and consumption of peanut butter in which one character is George Washington Carver, famous for his inventions using the peanut), Peanutia (a downloadable fictional encyclopedia of the peanut), The Peanut Gallery (message boards and chat rooms related to the site), The Nutty Contestant (games related to peanut trivia, sponsored by fictional peanut product companies), and Extra Butter (related media projects by invited artist participants).






Production Timeline and Project Budget


Over the summer, we will visit peanut farms, peanut butter factories, and peanut festivals around the country, collecting sounds and images for the project. Groundnut Stew will be updated as we travel from site to site. We are already developing the libretto for the web opera, which will be featured on Groundnut as Butter, The Agriculturalist. This opera will be recorded and presented on the site in three installments. Peanutia will be available in its entirety as a downloadable pdf in September. Source information will come from the field research. During the summer, there will be one game (for Nutty Contestant) developed per month. Extra Butter will be updated as invited artists submit their projects. The longest part of the project will be the interaction with site visitors, who will have the opportunity to make community through the site. They will both shape the content of the site through their responses to the interviews and their dialogues in the message boards and chatrooms.





Honoraria $ 500

Software?$ 500

Hardware?$ 500


Total ?$5000






E2a, A telnet action This project explores the meaning of community, music, and the popular as mediated by telnet email system. In order to gather sounds for the Uli Suite, Keith+Mendi sent a call for sounds over email.


Blackness for Sale Keith auctioned his blackness online at The auction was scheduled to last from Aug 8-18 2001. After four days, eBay closed the auction due to the 'inappropriateness' of the item. After 12 bids, his blackness reached its peak at $152.50. The item was listed under Collectibles/Culture/Black Americana. This project will be traveling with the Race and Digital Space exhibition. Keith


my hands/wishful thinking is an internet memorial piece for Amadou Diallo. Diallo was killed by New York City policemen on February 4, 1999. The four policemen involved claimed that they thought Diallo's wallet was a gun and fired 41 shots, hitting him 19 times. Most of the information we received about Diallo's death was mediated by the internet and filtered through the lens of our browser. We thought it fitting that we mourn and make art in this public/private digital space. Keith's wallet, seen in the image, was purchased on 125th street in Harlem where Amadou Diallo worked as a vendor. In this piece there is one thought to counteract each bullet fired. The words are wishful thinking in the present tense. These thoughts reject the negative forces directed against us, the survivors, African people in the United States. Making this work is an enactment of our will to survive. Keith+Mendi


The Sour Thunder is an opera created for the web. All audio will be accessible as MP3 and Realaudio files. Background information on real and fictional characters, places, technology, and images of maps will all be available through the Shockwave/Flash interface. Brief statements from well-known artists and scholars about personal experiences with a new language will be posted on a linked page. The statements will be audio files or text taken specifically for The Sour Thunder. Web participants will also be able to post their own experiences with a new language. Keith+Mendi


keeping up appearances, a hypertextimonial uses minimalist coding in an attempt to visualize painful silences. In the tradition of black feminist artists like Faith Ringgold and Audre Lorde, Obadike makes art out of what is said and not said. Mendi






Keith Townsend Obadike




Presently, Yale School of Drama (MFA Sound Design)


BA in Art, North Carolina Central University; Durham, NC


Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Summer Program in sculpture and art history; Kumasi, Ghana


Morehouse College, Music Department; Atlanta, GA



Selected Group Exhibitions


2002 Race and Digital Space, Studio Museum in Harlem

curated by Erika Muhammad


2001 Race and Digital Space, MIT/List Visual Art Center

curated by Erika Muhammad


2001?Collective Jukebox, Marseilles, France

?curated by Jerome Joy


?Audiophfile 6.0, Washington, DC

?curated by Laura McGough



Audio Art Generator, Linz, Austria


Infos 2000 Offline Net Art, Ljubljana, Slovenia

curated by Tim Murray and Teo Spillers



?Transmissions Chapel Hill, NC curated by Kenan Mc Donald



1999?Sonik?curated by Mogens Jacobsen

?online with the Danish Artnode Foundation and

?the Danish Film Institute HYPERLINK section)


1998?E-2A, an online call for sounds (a telnet action)


Selected Recordings and Performances




2001 Black Skin White Gloves w/.Mendi Obadike commissioned by Duke University's Mary Lou Williams Center and Blue Roach Performance Series


?/span>The Sour Thunder w/ Mendi Obadike for Discipline and Deviance Conference (gender and technology) at Duke University



Take These Chains a film by Vince Brown

composer /sound Designer


1997?Taste of Sugar Cane performance w/ Mendi Lewis Obadike

for Acropolis on the Brink at the Center for Documentary Studies


1995?Count Bass D/ Columbia Records performance with P-Funk and the Fugees

stage musician


1995?Art Porter Jr. Lay Your Hands EMI Records

session musician


1994?DAngelo Crusin EMI Records

session musician


1994-95The Modern Hip-Hop Quartet Diaspora Screams MCA Records

producer and musician


1994?Blues In C Natalie Cash, pro. Delfayo Marsalis




Arts Administration


2001?DoubleTake Documentary Film Festival Selection Committee


2000?To Conserve A Legacy American Art from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (North Carolina Central University Art Museum, Center for Documentary Studies and Duke University Museum of Art), organized by the Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy, Andover and the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, Curated By Richard Powell (Duke University) and Jock Reynolds (Yale University).

Exhibition Coordinator


1999-00 African Diaspora Film Series (Isaac Julien, Coco Fusco and

?others) at the Center for Documentary Studies, Curator


1999?North Carolina Central University Art Museum, (Charles White: American Draftsman and Contemporary Ceramics) Museum Assistant


1998-9 North Carolina Arts Council/ North Carolina Central University,

?Campus Art selection Committee?





?/span>Artthrob?"Keith Obadike Sells his Blackness" August 22

?/span>Washington Post Jessica Dawson "Audiophfile 6.0 Review" Febuary 15

2000?Raliegh News & Observer Carlene Hempel" Art Made for the Net: an Interview with Keith and Mendi Obadike"

Raliegh News & Observer?Understanding African Diaspora Vicki Cheng Febuary 16

1998?The Tennessean Rick de Yampert " Urban Renewal" March 18

Nashville Banner/Backbeat Michael Gray "Hip-Hop Happening" May 30



College Art Association Art Journal "What's in a Name: Seeing Sound Art in Black Visual Traditions" Winter Issue


?/span>Black Arts Quarterly (Stanford) "Acha Debela on Art and Technology", Spring Issue


Awards and Affiliations


Benjamin Slotznick New Media Award, Yale University, 2002

Nominated for Rockefeller Media Fellowship, 2002

John Hope Franklin Documentary Award 1998

NCCU Foundation Grant 1998

Samuel DuBois Cook Society (Duke University)







Mendi Lewis Obadike



Duke University--Durham, NC

doctoral candidate, Graduate Program in Literature, 1995-present


Spelman College--Atlanta, GA?

BA, English, minor in Spanish, 1995

Summa Cum Laude, distinguished student in English


?Other Programs Attended:

College of Art--University of Science and Technology

Summer Art Program

Kumasi, Ghana, 1998


Pontificia Universidad Catolica, Madre y Maestra

foreign student program, concentration in Language and Literature

Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic, 1993




Performances and Exhibitions


2002 Race and Digital Space, Studio Museum in Harlem

curated by Erika Muhammad


2001?New Women Authors, October 5

?Cambridge Center for Adult Education Cambridge, MA


?Race and Digital Space, MIT/List Visual Art Center

?curated by Erika Muhammad


?"Black Skin, White Gloves"

Blue Roach Poetry Series, April 19

Duke University--Durham, NC

Featured Artist w. Keith Obadike



Collective Jukebox--experimental audio art

??Marseilles, France, curated by Jerome Joy



United Nations Poetry Reading Series

Dialogue Among Civilizations, March 31

Center for Documentary Studies--Durham, NC

Durham Organizer and Editor for book


Virginia Festival of the Book --Charlottesville, VA

Reading with Cave Canem, March 24

?Reading with Carolina African American Writers Collective, March 25


Celebration of Black Writing Festival--Philadelphia, PA, February 16

Reading with Cave Canem


2000?Diversity Week Poetry Reading, October 24

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Reading with Carolina African American Writers Collective


Cave Canem Poetry Reading, July 1

Cranbrook--Bloomfield Hills, MI


Four Bean Stew Reading

Mary Lou Williams Center

Duke University--Durham, NC


The Sour Thunder, performance

Discipline and Deviance: Gender and Technology

Duke University, with Keith Obadike



Telnet call for sounds with Keith Obadike


Composition and Performance of narration

Take These Chains a film by Vince Brown


1997?Taste of Sugar Cane (w/ Keith Obadike), October 17

Acropolis on the Brink (readings/performances)

Center for Documentary Studies--Durham, NC

Writer/ Performer


Publications Poetry


Fence (forthcoming), Role Call: A Generational Anthology of Social and Political Black Literature and Art, PoetryBay, 2001, Nocturnes, 2001, MonkeyBread, 2000, Take These Chains, 1998, Amethyst, 1998, Catch the Fire: A Cross-Generational Anthology

of African-American Poetry, 1997


Publications Essays


Music entry in The Toni Morrison Encyclopedia (forthcoming)

Olly Wilsons Motherless Cyborg. Black Arts Quarterly, Stanford ?University (1998)

Reading Ursula? Silence: Sexuality, Subjectivity, and Crossed Signals in ??Set it Off. Black Arts Quarterly, Stanford University (1997)



Awards & Affiliations


Benjamin Slotznick New Media Award, Yale University, 2002

Nominated for Rockefeller Media Fellowship, 2002

Conference Planning Committee Member for Social Science Research

? Council-Mellon Minority?graduate conferences, 2001-2004

Cave Canem Poetry Fellow, 2000-2002

Distinguished Teaching Fellow, John Hope Franklin Seminars for ?Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities, Duke University, 1999

Identity Politics Working Group, Duke University, Founding Member, 1998

Samuel DuBois Cook Society, Founding Member, 1997

Mellon Fellowship in Humanistic Studies, 1995

Duke Endowment Fellowship, 1995

Distinguished Student in English, 1995

Mellon Minority Undergraduate Fellowship, 1993

Younger Scholar Award, National Endowment for the Humanities, 1991




Instructor, English Composition, Southern Connecticut State University, 2001

New Haven, CT


Teaching Assistant or Instructor of Literature or Writing, 1997-2001

Duke University--Durham, NC


?Music as a Social Practice, Sound and Black Identity

Black Women and the Victorian Ideal, True Stories (film

?/span>and the?fictionalize true narrative), African-American Literature

?Afro-Brazilian History and Culture, University Writing Course--Race

?Rhetoric--Slavery and the Declaration of Independence


?Instructor of English as a Second Language, 1995

?Centro Cultural Dominico-Americano--Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican




American Women Writers of Color, panelist 2001

"Voice and Noise as Presence in Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon

?/span>and Jewelle Gomez' The Gilda Stories"

Black Presence In . . . (new media arts conference), panelist 2001

Popular Culture Association, panelist, 2001

?"Hear My Train Acomin': an Acoustemology?of Blackness in Space"

Emerging Leaders Workshop, Graduate Fellow, 1999-2000

African American Presence at Duke, panelist, 1997

Modern Language Association, panel participant, 1995