Event

The Racial Imaginary Institute: On Whiteness

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Free

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, Sara’o Bery, LeRonn P. Brooks, Steven Glavey, Cathy Park Hong, Casey Llewellyn,  Claudia Rankine, 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:

Exhibition
Opening June 27, 6–8pm. 

Artists include: Josh Begley, Paul Chan, Mel Chin, Ja’Tovia Gary, Ken Gonzales-Day, Kate Greenstreet, Titus Kaphar, Baseera Khan, Charlotte Lagarde, Seung-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 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.

Residencies

Vijay Iyer
June 25–29
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
July 9–13
Playwright Jackie Sibblies Drury will begin a new project, experimenting with text and developing a movement vocabulary in collaboration with Kaneza Schaal and 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
July 16–20
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.

Performances

Marguerite Hemmings
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.

Seung-Min Lee
July 23, 8pm
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.

Angie Pittman
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, Leslie Fritz, and OSMOS; 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 The Korein Foundation and MacDowell Colony. 

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Mel Chin,  Aileen, 2015. Courtesy of the Artist.

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