The Racial Imaginary Institute: On Whiteness

When 27 Jun 2018 - 3 Aug 2018
Where The Kitchen
512 West 19th Street
New York, NY 10011
United States
Enquiry (212) 255-5793

Since their creation last year, The Racial Imaginary Institute has focused on whiteness as a starting point, noting, “Whiteness as a source of unquestioned power, and as a ‘bloc,’ feels itself to be endangered even as it retains its hold on power.” Through a group exhibition, performances, residencies and a symposium, On Whiteness aims to create a collaborative space to question, mark, and check whiteness, challenging its dominance as it operates through default positions in cultural behavior.

A foundational text for the project is philosopher Sara Ahmed’s text “The Phenomenology of Whiteness,”in which she describes whiteness as an “ongoing and unfinished history, which orientates bodies in specific directions, affecting how they ‘take up’ space, and what they ‘can do.’” In particular, Ahmed asks us to consider “‘institutions’ as orientation devices, which take the shape of ‘what’ resides within them.” Acknowledging how institutions have the power to shape social meaning, The Kitchen and The Racial Imaginary Institute stage their intervention in existing cultural spaces, seeking to extend programming and outreach towards a deliberate consideration of race.

 

Exhibition

Opening June 27, 6–8pm

The exhibition portion of On Whiteness aims to take advantage of art’s powerful ability to reframe dominant ways of seeing, especially with regard to philosopher Sara Ahmed’s postulation of whiteness as a “habit,” whose power to form and sustain specific social behaviors and institutions resides in its being taken entirely for granted. As Ahmed proposes: “Whiteness is what bodies do, where the body takes shape of the action…. spaces are oriented ‘around’ whiteness, insofar as whiteness is not seen.” By disorienting the particularly habituated space of the white cube gallery, the work in this exhibition questions, marks, and checks whiteness, challenging its dominance as it operates through default positions in cultural behavior.

Artists in the exhibition include Josh Begley, Paul Chan, Mel Chin, Ja’Tovia Gary, Ken Gonzales-Day, Kate Greenstreet, Titus Kaphar, Baseera Khan, Charlotte Lagarde, Se ung-Min Lee, Glenn Ligon, Mores McWreath, Sandeep Mukherjee, Native Art Department International, Toyin Ojih Odutola, Tim Rollins and K.O.S., Cindy Sherman, Rodrigo Valenzuela, and Anicka Yi.

 

Symposium

June 30, 10am–6pm

A day-long interactive symposium on the phenomenology, distortions and diagnostics of white dominated space, featuring keynote addresses, panel discussions, and a musical performance. The proceedings will include speeches by The Future of Whiteness author Linda Alcoff, historian and artist Nell Painter, and legal scholar and The Alchemy of Race and Rights author Patricia Williams. Chris Chen will moderate a morning panel on cultural representation and appropriation with Jeff Chang, Aruna D’Souza, Daniel Borzutsky, Sarah Lewis, and Doreen St. Felix. In the afternoon, Rankine will moderate a panel focusing on the empathy and likeability in the context of white dominance with Lauren Berlant, Sadhana Bery, Jane Caflisch, Lori Gruen, and Saidiya Hartman. Vijay Iyer will also perform as the conclusion of his residency The What of the World, which will be followed by a discussion with fellow MacArthur Fellows Claudia Rankine and Patricia Williams.

Tentative Symposium Schedule
10:00 — Doors open
10:30-10:45 — Introduction
10:45–11:15 — Opening Keynote: Nell Painter
11:15–12:45 — Panel 1: (Jeff Chang, Aruna D’Souza, Daniel Borzutsky, Sarah Lewis, Doreen St. Felix, moderator Chris Chen)
12:45–1:45 — Lunch Break
1:45–2:15 — Afternoon Keynote: Linda Alcoff
2:15–4:15 — Panel 2: (Lauren Berlant, Sadhana Bery, Jane Caflish, Lori Gruen, Saidiya Hartman, moderator Rizvana Bradley)
4:30 — Performance by Vijay Iyer, followed by conversation with Patricia Williams and Claudia Rankine
5:00–5:30 — Closing Keynote: Patricia Williams
5:30 — Reception

 

Photo courtesy of the organizer/s.

For more information, please click here.