Keeping Up Appearances is a “hypertextimonial” in which Mendi Obadike recounts her interactions with an older, white, male mentor as a young, black woman. At first glance, the work appears to consist only of black, nonreactive Times New Roman text snippets, which make some sense on their own, but fail to cohere as a narrative. Hovering the cursor reveals lavender text that fills in the blanks to uncover a series of confessional asides, the literal subtext of her interactions with the man—his over-familiarity and her silence. Notably, Keeping Up Appearances does not allow reader intervention in the text, unlike many other hypertext works. Purely a spectator, unable to change Mendi’s narrative, the reader is reminded of the historical inevitability of dynamics such as the one she describes. Keeping Up Appearances is a part of Black Net.Art Actions, a suite of new media artworks that share a conceptual interest in discourses of color and race, and the racialization of the internet.
"Keeping up Appearances" is part of Mendi Obadike's "Black.net.net" actions. In this work she explores racial and social interactions. Clicking on the blank areas reveals the subtext of this elegant and poignant hypertext piece.
"keeping up appearances, a hypertextimonial" uses minimalist coding in an attempt to visualize painful silences. In the tradition of black feminist artists like Faith Ringgold and Audre Lorde, Obadike makes art out of what is said and not said. Her past projects have examined intersections of sound, propriety, and enactments of a black feminine aesthetic. This project is part of her "Black.net.art" actions.