90 minutes of conversation broadcast at thelab.org
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What are the ethical, educational, and aesthetic responsibilities of the museum in the age of falling monuments to colonialism and the Black Lives Matter movement? What is the political and social obligation of the institution to publics' contesting demands to "decolonize" or foreground diversity and inclusion, and also to prioritize the historical canon? Considering expressed commitments to addressing racial injustice, we will discuss the present role of institutionality from monuments to public education to staff treatment to archival collections to exhibitions, and whether these institutions are able to keep pace with and sufficiently address rapidly changing political conditions.
Nicholas Mirzoeff is a visual activist, working at the intersection of politics, race and global/visual culture. In 2020-21 he is ACLS/Mellon Scholar and Society fellow in residence at the Magnum Foundation, New York, on the issue of "Visual Politics and Practices of Whiteness." Among his many publications, The Right to Look: A Counterhistory of Visuality (2011) won the Anne Friedberg Award for Innovative Scholarship from the Society of Cinema and Media Studies in 2013. How To See The World was published by Pelican in the UK (2015) and by Basic Books in the US (2016). It has been translated into ten languages and was a New Scientist Top Ten Book of the Year for 2015. The Appearance of Black Lives Matter was published in 2017 as a free e-book, and in 2018 as a limited edition print book with the art project “The Bad Air Smelled Of Roses” by Carl Pope and a poem by Karen Pope, both by NAME Publications, Miami.
Since the 2017 events Charlottesville, he has been active in the movement to take down statues commemorating settler colonialism and/or white supremacy and convened the collaborative syllabus All The Monuments Must Fall, fully revised after the 2020 events. He curated “Decolonizing Appearance,” an exhibit at the Center for Art Migration Politics (September 2018-March 2019). A frequent blogger and writer, especially for the art magazine Hyperallergic, his work has appeared in the Nation, the New York Times, Frieze, the Guardian, Time and The New Republic.
Zoé Samudzi is a doctoral candidate in Medical Sociology at the University of California, San Francisco. Her research engages colonial biomedicine, visuality, German colonialism, and the 1904-1908 Herero and Nama genocide in present-day Namibia. Her writing has appeared in The New Inquiry, The New Republic, Art in America, Hyperallergic, and Arts.Black, and she is a contributing writer at Jewish Currents. Along with William C. Anderson, she is the co-author of As Black as Resistance: Finding the Conditions for Our Liberation (AK Press).
The Forum is a bi-weekly experiment in creating discourse within the context of isolation. Art creates a space for reconsidering our knowledge across various social and professional fields. It asks us: Why do we perceive things the way we do? What are we living for? How can we reimagine our relationships to the human and non-human world? The Forum proposes that the project of freedom is a project of making a world with others. So, we invite you to help us answer: what can we do now?
Please bring your ideas, proposals, questions to discuss following the talk.