Created as part of a suite of works with the other members of AFRICOBRA, "Wake Up" debuted as part of AFRICOBRA II in 1971, at the Studio Museum in Harlem. A vote was taken to develop prints based on the best works from AFRICOBRA I the previous year, "Wake Up" being the piece selected for Gerald Williams. Votes were taken at the original Studio Museum show, as AFRICOBRA wanted the prints to reflect the interests of the public. The original painting by Williams is in reference to "waking up" to social ills. Particular reference is made in the text component and in Jeff Donaldson's manifesto for AFRICOBRA I to the "King Alfred Plan." The King Alfred Plan was a conspiracy theory which gained traction in the late 1960s and early 1970s pertaining to an alleged CIA plan working towards global genocide of people of African descent. While the conspiracy theory was untrue in specific terms, it is worth noting retroactively that there were violent anti-Black conspiracies enacted by the government at the time. Infamously, the "Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male" now called the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiments were being conducted by the US Public Health Service. The unethical studies, conducted between 1932 and 1972, involved 600 African American males, 399 of which had syphilis and were left untreated, and 201 of which were unknowingly infected with syphilis and left untreated.
Africobra: Nation Time, 2019, La Biennale di Venezia, Venice, Italy
Recent Select Exhibitions Met Breuer AFRICOBRA 50 at Kavi Gupta Tate Modern Brooklyn Museum Crystal Bridges Museum of Art Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts Cleveland Museum of Art North Miami MOCA (forthcoming)