The Black Bacchic: Music Videos of the Diamonds and Pearls Era

Graffiti Bridge did entirely too much, but it laid out a couple of aesthetic paths for Prince and the New Power Generation (NPG). One is that of the visuals of the Diamonds and Pearls era. During this period, Prince presented tableaus of Black pleasure that countered earlier solo video performances of his own private or privatized desires, including the desire to be seen. From the bravado and peacocking of Prince’s play with the Game Boyz to his submersion in women-dominated spaces, Prince prioritized shared pleasure and collective glamour. As he moved away from video visions of privatized pleasure, Prince’s imagery also transformed from dreamy to corporal, with significant changes in staging, design, and performance. In this talk, I will also explore Rosie Gaines’s prominence in this period, her particular presence in these videos, and generally, the way that Black women figure into and out of Prince’s gaze. I will touch on the Love Symbol and 3 Chains o’ Gold as children of the other aesthetic path set out by Graffiti Bridge and the peculiar place The Beautiful Experience holds in his exploration of Black women’s interiority.

Melay Araya

Melay Araya is an artistic director, writer, and archivist. A multimedia artist with three decades of experience, Ms. Araya continues to study, compose, record, and perform. Melay first presented a paper on the Jet/ Ebony archives at Black Portraiture[s] V Conference at NYU and has since gone on to speak about art and archives at universities, festivals, and in classroom settings.