Bitter Nigger Inc.
Established in 1999, Bitter Nigger, Inc. (BNI) is a fantastical art and idea corporation with the corporate mission of bringing cultural interventions of the highest quality to the art marketplace. Using humor and the language of consumer culture to investigate hierarchies of power, race and class, each new installation expands the corporate footprint. To date BNI is composed of a robust family of distinct yet interconnected subsidiary ventures.
Bitter Nigger, Inc.
The Bitter Nigger Inc. trade show kiosk featured the BNI promotional interactive. Using animation, sound, and video, the Macromedia Director interactive highlighted the offerings from the Bitter Nigger Broadcast Network, the BNI Product Division, including: The Equalizer, a wearable, personal witnessing device; The Enforcer, a behavior modification micro-chip implant; and HoloPal, a holographic white companion device; and the Pharmaceutical Division, including: Privitrol, a privilege cessation dermal patch; Melinderm, the micro-Teflon medicated lotion; and Tominex, the go-along-to-get-along medication.
The project was completed in 2001, and included in the 2001 Freestyle exhibition curated by Thelma Golden at The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY and Santa Monica Museum of Art, Santa Monica, CA, and the Race in Digital Space exhibition at MIT List Visual Art Center, Cambridge, MA, and Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, Atlanta, GA, the 2003 exhibition Skin Deep at Numark Gallery, Washington, DC.
Our Name is Our Promise
The Our Name Is Our Promise trade show booth highlighted the offerings from the BNI Product Division, including: The Equalizer, a wearable, personal witnessing device; and the Pharmaceutical Division, including: Privitrol, a privilege cessation dermal patch; Melinderm, the micro-Teflon medicated lotion; and Tominex, the go-along-to-get-along medication.
The project was completed in 2001, and included in the 2001 Mimic exhibition at GAle Gates, Brooklyn, NY, and the 2003 exhibitions American Dream at Ronald Feldman, New York, NY, and After Whiteness at I Space, Chicago, IL.
New Negrotopia was conceived as BNI’s expansion into themed entertainment environments. The project was presented as a post-race paradise, where every detail had been crafted for the viewers delight, allowing one to play tourist through the constructs of race and time, or if preferred, take a vacation from these realities.
The new media installation consisted of a trade show booth, fabricated with aluminum framing, fluorescent lights, Plexiglas sheets, vinyl flooring, and large-format digital prints. The booth was essentially a large Plexiglas light box, skinned in bold graphics that were reminiscent of the flat, colorful lithographs used in Fisher Price play sets for children.
The graphics on the outside entrance of the booth depicted the exterior of a New Negrotopia monorail car. The graphics inside the front half of the booth depicted the interior of the monorail car, with vistas of two of the amusement park’s attractions visible through the car’s windows. The monorail entrance/exit was also the booth’s storefront and primary area for merchandise display. The New Negrotopia merchandise consisted of limited edition multiples of souvenir t-shirts, tote bags, alarm clocks, collectible spoons, charm bracelets, mugs, snow globes, and collectible badges and pins. The merchandise, featuring characters and attractions, helped to establish the park’s “brands” and communicated the multiple narratives within the project, while also allowing visitors to purchase and take home a small token of paradise.
The focus of the rear half of the booth was the Cotton Bales on the Mississippi flume ride, one of the attractions in Zippadeedooda, the section of the park that explored slavery and the Civil War though a distorted, Disneyesque lens. The rear half of the booth also featured the interactive map of New Negrotopia, navigated by visitors from the comfort of a Cotton Bales flume ride bumper car. The interactive map introduced the characters and attractions of New Negrotopia, and allowed visitors to engage with the narratives of the project. The map featured sound, animations and illustrations programmed in Macromedia Director.
There was also a soundtrack for the booth, consisting of sound clips from Disney animations, like Song of the South; mash-ups of popular songs by artists like Nina Simone; amusement park sound effects; and voice over announcements prompting visitors to visit attractions or purchase merchandise.
The project was completed in 2004 and exhibited at MassMoCA in 2004 as part of The Interventionists exhibition, curated by Nato Thompson. During the opening weekend of the exhibition at MassMoCA, Hargest performed as a New Negrotopia cast member, helping visitors navigate through the park and promoting the values of Bitter Nigger Inc.