Collection Artwork
Sam Durant (born Seattle, Washington, 1961)
chromogenic print
paper size: 49 3/8 x 39 5/8 in.
frame size: 51 x 41 1/4 in.
Gift of Peter Norton
(Blum & Poe, Santa Monica, California); purchased by Peter Norton, Santa Monica, California, 2002; given to the Tang Teaching Museum, 2015.

Installation views

Object Label

We need a truth and reconciliation process, and we need real remedies. We can’t just be sorry.
—Sam Durant

A stoic man stares out and holds a mirror that reflects an empty rattan peacock chair. The throne-like chair originated in the Philippines, and in the early 1900s, it was marketed as an “exotic” import in the United States. When Black Panther Minister of Defense Huey P. Newton sat in one for the now-iconic 1967 photograph by Blair Stapp, he transformed it into an African throne and symbol for his model of black power.

With the empty chair, Sam Durant invokes Newton and the Black Panther Party. The title of the photograph, perhaps, asks viewers not only to see the reflection of the chair—and recognize Newton’s absence from it—but also to reflect on the legacy of the BPP and the country’s complex history of racial oppression.

From the exhibition: Give a damn. (June 30 – September 30, 2018)

Ongoing Research

Research on our collection is ongoing. If you have resources you’d like to share, please contact Associate Curator Rebecca McNamara.
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