Colored People by Adrian Piper.
Curated by Digital Projects and Engagement Librarian Tatiana Bryant and Art and Architecture Librarian Sara DeWaay, this exhibit on view in Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) highlights artists’ books related to themes in this year’s common reading selection, Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. The books on view address race, identity, privilege, capitalism, education, diaspora, and family—as lived, studied, observed, and expressed by a variety of artists.
Between the World and Me is a stark acknowledgement of the distorted lens through which the white imagination envisages the black body. One may #SayHerName and proclaim #BlackLivesMatter, but the instinct to look away from violence to the black body—to rationalize, explain, and ignore it—is never far from the surface. Increasing visual evidence of police brutality in the U.S. coupled with endemic racial disparities in sentencing and incarceration rates are simultaneously sobering and terrifying.
The contradiction between reality and dominant narratives mirror the distance between the subversive format of artists’ books from the convention of traditional books. Though all of the exhibition selections were created prior to the publication of Between the World and Me, they reinforce many of Coates’ themes—requiring one to confront and interrogate conceptions of the black body and most critically, recognize that You Must Never Look Away From This.
You Must Never Look Away From This: An Artists’ Books Selection Inspired by Between the World and Me
April 10–June 30, 2017
Special Collections and University Archives
Knight Library 2nd Floor North
SCUA is open 4/10/17–6/16/17 M–F 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m., and 6/19/17–6/30/17 M–F 10 a.m.–3 p.m.
Related events here.