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On the Cover: Tadáskía’s ave preta mística mystical black bird

The front and back covers of Studio Spring/Summer 2024 feature two pages from Afro-Brazilian artist Tadáskía’s looseleaf book ave preta mística mystical black bird—part of an installation first presented at the 35th São Paulo Biennial in 2023 and on view at the Museum of Modern Art, part of a multiyear project between the Studio Museum and MoMA, from May 24 through October 14, 2024.

Tadáskía, raised Pentecostal and surrounded by Afro-Brazilian Candomblé Umbanda communities, infuses her work with religiosity and ritual. Her installations stand at the threshold of the corporeal—having been rendered laboriously by the artist—and the spiritual—the concepts arriving via a sort of sacramental channeling. Presented in both English and Portuguese, ave preta mística mystical black bird tells the story of a bird who undergoes a series of transformations, referencing innumerable transmogrification myths and, perhaps, the artist's experience with shifting gender and sexuality. Although each image is paired with koan-like text, the connection between the two expresses an ambivalence toward narrative coherence. Instead, the work prioritizes a metaphorical and literal bilingualism, an intentionally mistranslated illustration of the immateriality of the relationship between two distinct things.

In the excerpt chosen for the cover, we see impressionistic, sprightly marks of pastel and colored pencils, honoring the palette of spring and its themes of birth, youth, emergence, nurturance, and hope. The drawing could be read as fronds or feathers, blooms or plumes—or both—as the text reads: "In the dream I meet all the mystical birds of the worlds together at the same time we’re black old and young."

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