In the fall of 2018, I was invited to be an artist-in-residence at the Jacob Lawrence Gallery at the University of Washington in Seattle. I was excited to revisit the work of the radical formalist and visionary painter, and when I received the invitation to travel to Seattle for a residency that would coincide …

The nineteenth-century imagination, both pictorially and textually, played host to the spectre of a tendency toward passages of blankness. The Mallarméan word ptyx, proposed to exist in a condition of meaninglessness, Flaubert’s project of a book about nothing, and James Abbott McNeill Whistler’s musically-titled series of paintings about a single colour all testify to this …

The central question in building an account of whiteness is how to figure the body. How should the body figure? In dominant understandings of race, the body signifies the human body, and race is articulated as a social construction in order to account for the different scales of experience at which race registers as meaningful …

On Being Present Where You Wish to Disappear

by Nana Adusei-Poku
volume 4
Originally published in e-flux journal #80, March 2017

In 2009 the Centre Pompidou in Paris opened an exhibition called Voids: A Retrospective. Through works such as Yves Klein’s The Specialization of Sensibility in Raw Material State into Stabilized Pictorial Sensibility, it explored a tradition of radical curatorial and artistic interventions touching on the “art of nothing.” The exhibition consisted of empty spaces in which nothing …

Material Matters: Black Radical Aesthetics and the Limits of Visibility

by Sampada Aranke
volume 4
Originally published in e-flux journal #79, February 2017

Contemporary black radical aesthetic practices that emphasize materials that surface, texture, and visualize blackness ineluctably trouble, if not unravel, the panoptic qualities of the visual itself. It is without a doubt that images play a hyperactive role in our understanding of black life, but what of the material matters of black resistance? In my use of the phrase …

While studying painting and printmaking at Yale University, Tomashi Jackson noticed that the language Josef Albers used to describe color perception phenomenon in his 1963 instructional text Interaction of Color mirrored the language of racialized segregation found in the transcripts of education policy and civil rights court cases fought by Thurgood Marshall and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund …

How we speak matters, because the language we use shapes how we understand the world. Language is also viral—how we talk transfers to others in the communities we participate in, and we take up the speech patterns of others, often without realizing it. Over the last several years, I have been focused on a particular turn …

We are Ruby T and Latham Zearfoss, two visual and community-oriented artists working and living in Chicago. We are white, and we work together to interrogate our own relationships to white supremacy. We do this most directly through the collective project Make Yourself Useful, which seeks to end apathy and malaise among white people, and move material support toward …