January 15, 2019 - Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania (ICA) - Colored People Time
January 15, 2019

Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania (ICA)

[1] National Institutes of Health / Getty Images, scanning electron micrograph of just-divided HeLa cells, purchased 2018, stock image. [2] Dave McKenzie, Futuro, 2013. 61 x 61 x 2 inches. Inkjet print mounted on aluminum. Collection of Ben and Aileen Krohn. [3] Kevin Jerome Everson, IFO, 2017. Film still. © Kevin Jerome Everson. Courtesy of the artist, Trilobite-Arts DAC, and Picture Palace Pictures. [4] Aria Dean, Notes on Blaccelerationism, 2017. Digital video, 75 minutes. Courtesy of the artist.

Colored People Time
Mundane Futures
February 1–March 31, 2019

Public opening celebration: February 1, 6:30–9pm

Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania (ICA)
118 S. 36th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

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Reading and conversation with Professor Saidiya Hartman, Columbia University, and Curator Meg Onli, ICA
February 22, 6:30pm 
Penn Book Center, 130 S. 34th Street 

Screening and Conversation with artist Kevin Jerome Everson and curator Maori Karmael Holmes
March 1, 6:30pm 
Check website for location 

Curator-led tour with Meg Onli
March 13, 6:30pm 

Performative Lecture with artist Dave McKenzie
March 20, 6:30pm 

On February 1, 2019, the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania (ICA) will launch Colored People Time, a powerful, thought-provoking, and experimental presentation that re-envisions the traditional exhibition format to build new narratives and public discourse around the everyday experiences of black Americans.

Broken into three distinct chapters opening over the course of 2019—Mundane Futures, Quotidian Pasts, and Banal Presents—the yearlong exhibition will offer a profound exploration into how the history of chattel slavery and colonialism in America not only shaped the foundations of our country but exists in our present moment and impacts our future. The title of the exhibition draws from the black vernacular phrase “Colored People’s Time” which has functioned as a linguistic tool for people of color to control their own temporality even when placed within the construct of Western time. Conceived by Meg Onli, assistant curator at ICA, the format of Colored People Time will root itself within this malleable and fluid concept of time, enabling a new and responsive curatorial approach that will build on new ideas and discoveries from previous chapters, challenging the conventional exhibition structure.

The first chapter of Colored People Time aims to peer into the future of black cultural production through the lens of the ordinary. Contemporary artists Martine Syms, Kevin Jerome Everson, Aria Dean, and Dave McKenzie will present works that imagine the future as a continuation of the present, comprised of banal and everyday experiences. Carefully and deliberately displayed within the smallest exhibition space in the institution, Mundane Futures will invoke a visible and spatial connection to the historical relegation of black art to isolated museum galleries. Martine Syms’ The Mundane Afrofuturist Manifesto (2013), which reimagines the future of black aesthetic both within the context of our current reality and as an extension of our past, will form a loose framework for the exhibition and will be transcribed and displayed as a wall painting inside the space. Inside the space, Dave Mckenzie’s Futuro (2016), a large-scale photographic work depicting black hands mirroring white hands holding a bedpan, offers an equally amusing and sobering representation of the future.

The exhibition seeks to contextualize the mundane future within the past through the presentation of two historic texts: Sutton E. Griggs’ 1899 black dystopian novel Imperium in Imperio and The Ten-Point Program published in the 1972 issue of The Black Panther. Both works will create a tangible link that ties the concept to the history of blackness in America.

The artists represented within this exhibition include: Aria Dean, Kevin Jerome Everson, Matthew Angelo Harrison, Carolyn Lazard, Dave McKenzie, Cameron Rowland, Sable Elyse Smith, and Martine Syms; accompanied by historical objects from the Black Panther Party, Sutton E. Griggs, the National Institutes of Health / Getty Images, and the African Collection at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. It is through these works that we are invited to reconsider the singularity of Western time and bear witness to the everyday disruptions that restructure and reorganize black being in the past, present, and future.

Colored People Time is organized by Meg Onli, assistant curator at ICA, and will be accompanied by a catalogue published in the form of a reader in 2020. Exhibition dates are Mundane Futures (February 1-March 31, 2019), Quotidian Pasts (April 26-August 11, 2019), and Banal Presents (September 13-December 22, 2019).

Major support for Colored People Time has been provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. Additional support has been provided by Arthur Cohen & Daryl Otte, Cheri & Steve Friedman, and Brett & Daniel Sundheim.

Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania (ICA)
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