art by Lily Darling April 4, 2019
Spotify’s RapCaviar is one of the most influential hip-hop playlists on the platform, sporting almost 11.5 million followers.
The playlist was created in order to highlight popular artists and uplift the voices of rising stars to the forefront of cultural conversation.
Now, the curators of the playlist have introduced four figures – Cardi B, Juice WRLD, Gunna, and Jaden Smith – into the “RapCaviar Pantheon.” The Pantheon is on display at the Brooklyn Museum from April 3-7.
While the RapCaviar Pantheon was clearly labeled as a “campaign” on behalf of Spotify, as opposed to an official installation, its display at the Brooklyn Museum, marks an important intersection between the musical and visual art worlds.
This is the second campaign created to honor the top artists of Spotify’s RapCaviar playlist. In 2017, the Brooklyn Museum hit off their partnership with Spotify to honor the breakthrough artists of that year: SZA, Metro Boomin, and 21 Savage.
Spotify described the inductees as “cultural disruptors” who were being memorialized for the undeniable impact they have had over the past year on the hip-hop scene.
Each sculpture of the Pantheon serves as a portrayal of the artists and their impact on the world beyond their music. Cardi B is displayed holding a phone in one hand to represent her pervasive presence on social media.
Juice WRLD is modeled after the Greek figure Atlas, a Titan who was forced to carry the world on his shoulders in order to symbolize the exposed nature of his music.
Gunna is depicted holding the snake that is frequently featured alongside the rapper’s image. Lastly, Jaden Smith’s sculpture is holding a second head in order to represent the duality of Smith’s music.
Department Head of Classical Studies at Brandeis University, Joel Christensen Ph.D., noted the historical importance of presenting these artists in the form of a Pantheon. He said,
“The Greek Pantheon, is, in a way, a transformative cultural force–a collection of symbols expressing values that simultaneously belong to no one and everyone.”
This is not the first time the Executive Director of the Brooklyn Museum, Anne Pasternak, has supported the efforts of black artists of both the musical and visual fields.
During her time at the non-profit Arts organization Real Art Ways, Pasternak curated the groundbreaking exhibition “Hip Hop Nation” in 1991.
More recently, her stint as the Executive Director at Creative Time helped produce Kara Walker’s 2014 installation “A Subtlety, or the Marvelous Sugar Baby” in the historic Domino Sugar Refining Plant.
Walker’s piece gained international attention not only for its enormous scale but also for its carefully crafted message concerning the history of African-American oppression displayed through the 75-foot tall sculpture.
Pasternak is less interested in persevering a type of cannon and more interested in creating a conversation concerning who art is for and what even constitutes as art itself.
With her work at the Brooklyn Museum, Pasternak has created a direct dialogue between the museum and community surrounding the space–setting her directorial program worlds apart from the likes of MoMA and its neighbors.