This installation explores the representation of black culture in the media. Artist Zeph Farmby reimagines the heads of four young black men as canvases for contemplating the content and underlying impact of the children’s cartoon show, Ton and Jerry. Farmby’s paintings feature a lesser known character from the series named Mammy Two Shoes, who appears in episodes as a looming and anonymous body – she is rendered with an exaggerated chest and bottom and her head is never shown.
MGM Hanna Barbara is not the only animation studio to perpetuate racist tropes, Walt Disney and other studios also make films that play off out dated orientalist; savage and patriarchic tropes that are endemic to U.S. culture and especially damaging to the formation of young consumers. This work contemplates the ways that cartoons, advertisements and other pop culture products sell themselves as naïve vehicles for telling stories, but have the power to shape an individual’s sense of self and the other.
Born and raised in Chicago, Zeph Farmby is a multi-disciplined artist and activist and Artspace’s 2017-18 Artist-in-Residence. He started his career as a graffiti artist, covering the city of Chicago with his visions. His “Eat The Rich” painting, murals, teachings , and art on apparel extends his creativity to all walks of life; the message is usually anti-greed, anti-capitalism and/or anti-establishment focused. Zeph is currently living and working in Brooklyn, NY.