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.
Organized by Joeonna Bellorado-Samuels, LeRonn P. Brooks, Cathy Park Hong, Casey Llewellyn, Sara’o Bery, Claudia Rankine, Emily Skillings, Simon Wu, and Monica Youn of The Racial Imaginary Institute and The Kitchen curatorial team.
June 27–August 3
Please see below for the entire program and individual event pages:
Opening June 27, 6–8pm.
Artists include: Josh Begley, Paul Chan, Mel Chin, Ja’Tovia Gary, Ken Gonzales-Day, Titus Kaphar, Baseera Khan, 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.
June 30, 10am–6pm
A day-long symposium featuring conversation on the diagnostics of whiteness, with keynote addresses by Linda Alcoff, Nell Painter, and Patricia Williams; panel discussions, and a performance by Vijay Iyer.
Vijay Iyer will explore what he terms the “affective archeology” of systemic racism, combining audio interviews he has conducted with artists of color with live performance with a host of collaborators across open rehearsals and evening performances.
Jackie Sibblies-Drury will begin use her time in the space to begin a new project, experimenting with text and developing a movement vocabulary in collaboration with other artists that explores how physical comedy and violence are written onto and interact with the black body. She will open her process to the public through in-process showings and casual feedback sessions.
Dark Noise Collective
Dark Noise Collective will use their time together as a retreat, focusing on internal writing workshops, artist talks, and discussions around race and the ways that their work disrupts white dominance. They will also host a public performance at The Kitchen, consisting of poems that have been generated during the residency and other work.
July 2, 7pm
Marguerite Hemmings looks at relationships that are in need of examining, i.e. audience-performer; institution-artist; whiteness-everything else? Audience members will be asked to join the circle and participate in guided and unguided improv exercises with sound and movement facilitators.
July 23, 7pm
Seung-Min Lee’s performance takes on the conflicted symbolic power of milk; as the once-booming dairy industry in New York state suffers with the steady decline of milk consumption, a new generation of Neo-Nazis takes pride in lactose tolerance, instrumentalizing the optical purity of milk as a emblem of white supremacy.
July 27, 7pm
Choreographer Angie Pittman will perform two pieces, Sequined Kisses and Vaseline Love, constructed as a diptych to propose a journey towards what Donnell Alexander calls “finding the essential soul while being essentially lost.”
The Racial Imaginary Institute: On Whiteness is made possible with support from the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation, Poetry Foundation, Valerie Dillon & Daniel R Lewis, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and Leslie Fritz; annual grants from Howard Gilman Foundation, Lambent Foundation Fund of Tides Foundation, and Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; and in part by public funds from New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. Special thanks to MacDowell Colony.
Mel Chin, Aileen, 2015. Courtesy of the Artist.
May 04 2018
By now we know that the future is most definitely femme, but the question still remains: what is feminine and who decided what it should be? Since her invention in 1959, Barbie has served as a body onto which ideas of womanhood and femininity have been mapped. As cultural critic and journalist...Read On
Mar 20 2018
This year marks The Kitchen’s thirty-third year in Chelsea, where the organization has resided in the same brick structure since relocating to this now bustling neighborhood in the fall of 1985. A steady fixture in a vastly altered environment, The Kitchen has presented hundreds of performances, ...Read On
Mar 19 2018
Synth Nights: Composers Inside Electronics (March 29–31) celebrates forty years since CIE first performed at The Kitchen. In advance of this three-night series, Sara O'Brien spoke with founding members Phil Edelstein and John Driscoll about these early performances and the evolution of CIE over t...Read On