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The 2018 TRII Biennial

Jun 27 – Aug 3, 2018


The members of The Racial Imaginary Institute are extending an invitation to cultural institutions, collectives, individuals, arts spaces, and other curatorial venues to invest in examining the racial imaginary in their programming during the months of June and July 2018, in conjunction with our collaborative exhibition On Whiteness at The Kitchen.

Sarah Ahmed, in her essay “The Phenomenology of Whiteness,” asks us to consider “‘institutions’ as orientation devices, which take the shape of ‘what’ resides within them.” For Ahmed, “spaces are orientated ‘around’ whiteness, insofar as whiteness is not seen . . . It is important that we do not reify institutions, by presuming they are simply given and that they decide what we do. Rather, institutions become given, as an effect of the repetition of decisions made over time, which shapes the surface of institutional spaces.” (SA:157)

Because institutions have the power to create social meaning, TRII has invited cultural institutions across the country  to extend their programming and outreach towards a deliberate consideration of race, specifically by inviting and supporting arts and programming that question, mark, and check whiteness. Our hope is that this invitation will create new habits and modes of inquiry for participating institutions, as well as the audiences that visit them. Let’s be a community, a network, a world, in which what we’ve inherited is not what we perpetuate.

If your collective, venue, or organization wishes to get involved with the 2018 TRII Biennial, please contact email hidden; JavaScript is required with a short proposal.


Full Schedule:


Recess Assembly: Xaviera Simmons
May 10 – July 28
FREE and open to the public, Thursday – Saturday // 12p – 6p
Culminating Reception: Thursday June 28, 5-7p; program at 6p

370 Schermerhorn Street
Brooklyn, NY 11217

Xaviera Simmons’ project, titled The burden of deconstructing whiteness and systematic oppression should no longer fall squarely on the shoulders of black and brown bodies. This weight and its solutions have to be carried by and wrestled within the bodies of those who no longer desire to continue to perpetuate and benefit from them, has transformed Assembly’s public storefront into a documentary filmmaking studio and site for research, interviews, and conversation with the goal of decentering of whiteness.

More information here.


47 Canal: The White Noise Mixtape
June 27 – August 3
Gallery Hours Wednesday – Sunday // 11a – 6p

291 Grand St
New York, NY 10002

An edition of 45 reclaimed 60 minute cassette tapes featuring the works of writers, musicians, sound artists, and comedians available for listening and purchase at 47 Canal, as well as streaming online. Organized by Tenaya Izu and Henry Murphy.

More information here.


Jack Shainman Gallery: Orientation
June 27 – August 3
Opening Reception: Thursday, June 28th, 6-8pm
FREE and open to the public, Tuesday – Saturday // 10a – 6p

513 West 20th St
New York, NY 10011

An exhibition in conjunction with the biennial building on Sarah Ahmed’s claim of Whiteness as an orientation, featuring work from James Lee Byars, Sam Durant, Gunther Förg, Anton Kannemeyer, Byron Kim, Barry Le Va, Sol Le Witt, Kerry James Marshall, Meleko Mokgosi, Yasumasa Morimura, Emily Nelms Perez, Jackie Nickerson, Toyin Ojih Odutola, Claudette Schreuders, Richard Serra, Becky Suss, Carrie Mae Weems, and Hank Willis Thomas.


The Drawing Center: Performance by Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe
In conjunction with Terry Winters: Facts and Fictions
Tuesday, July 10
Free with RSVP

35 Wooster St
New York, NY 10013

The Drawing Center will host a performance by the artist Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe in which Lowe will respond to Winters’s work. This event will take place in conjunction with the biennial programming of the Racial Imaginary Institute, an organization formed to activate public conversations about race.

More information here.


The Studio Museum in Harlem: In Conversation: (De)constructing Images of Color
Wednesday, July 11
FREE and open to the public

Hosted at The Greene Space
44 Charlton St
New York, NY

In Conversation: (De)constructing Images of Color brings together an interdisciplinary group of artists for an exploration of the connections among race, color theory, and the creation of decolonized oral histories. Co-hosted by the Studio Museum in Harlem and WNYC, the panel takes Sara Ahmed’s “The Phenomenology of Whiteness” as a point of departure for challenging whiteness as inheritance and driving force of history. Artists Joiri Minaya and Genevieve Gaignard will be joined in conversation by moderator and curator Legacy Russell and WNYC host Rebecca Carroll.

More information here.


Brooklyn Academy of Music: BAMcinematék On Whiteness film series
July 11 to July 19
Tickets and full schedule here.

30 Lafayette Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11217

Film series exploring how whiteness has been deliberately and subconsciously constructed, ignored, and challenged in the history of American film. Films include: Taxi Driver (1976), Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986), White Chicks (2004), Gran Torino (2008), The Virgin Suicides (1999), Get Out (2017) and many more.


Queens Museum: Gallery Talk with Claudia Rankine
In conjunction with Mel Chin: All Over the Place
Saturday, July 14
FREE and open to the Public

New York City Building
Queens, NY 11368

Join us for the third of four Second Saturdays, a new series of dynamic public programs presented to delve deeper into the themes, techniques, and aesthetics of Queens Museum’s temporary exhibitions. We will be kicking the series off with Mel Chin: All Over the Place on April 14, June 9, July 14, and August 11. Each afternoon will feature events produced in conversation with All Over the Place’s four thematic sections at the Queens Museum.

More information here.


Helena Anrather: Whiteness Reading Group
Sunday, July 15
FREE with registration

28 Elizabeth St, Third Floor
New York, NY 10013

Series of reading groups with the AN/OTHER curatorial collective exploring the texts informing the On Whiteness exhibition, focusing on Sara Ahmed’s “The Phenmenology of Whiteness,” and Fred Moten and Stefano Harvey’s The Undercommons.


The Whitney Museum of American Art:
ORIENTATIONS: Perceiving Whiteness in Art and Institutions
Tuesday, July 17
Free with registration

99 Gansevoort St
New York, NY 10014

Taking philosopher Sara Ahmed’s foundational text, “A Phenomenology of Whiteness” as a starting point, this workshop invites participants to develop a vocabulary for analyzing whiteness through close readings of works of art in the Whitney’s collection.

More information here.

Brooklyn Museum: Brooklyn Talks: Claudia Rankine with Alexandra Bell
Thursday, July 19
Tickets are $25 and include Museum admission.

200 Eastern Parkway
Brooklyn, NY 11238

Claudia Rankine examines the often-troubled manifestations of the racial imaginary in American poetry and explores counternarrative tactics of contemporary poets and artists. Her presentation is followed by a conversation with multidisciplinary artist Alexandra Bell, best known for her public art series Counternarratives, and Doreen St. Félix, a New Yorker staff writer who writes at the intersection between culture and media, and has written incisively on Counternarratives. Bell uses the term “counternarratives” to describe her work, which investigates how images and text work together to affect the cultural imagination and narratives around race.

More information here.


The New Museum: Post-Freedom Cookout
Sunday, July 22,
4 – 6pm
$15 public / $10 members

235 Bowery
New York, NY 10002

Yardy, a platform founded by DeVonn Francis, engages with food production within queer and migrant communities. A play on the Jamaican Patois word “yaadie”—a term that Jamaican locals and expats alike use to describe themselves and their group of friends—Yardy was founded on the premise that education and cultural support for food production are vital anchors for community building, justice work, and healing within marginalized communities. Fostering conviviality and intergenerational dialogue over gatherings with food, Yardy’s programs center on sisterhooding, matrilineal inheritance, and sustenance for Afro-diasporic people.

As part of the Racial Imaginary Institute’s 2018 Biennial programming, Yardy presents a workshop on the histories and futures of hybrid platforms that forge space for black cultural production in New York City. The workshop will consider the history of tenant organizing in the city, focusing particularly on how food culture spearheaded by people of color intersects with vibrant cookouts, nightlife, and visioning for a new generation of urban farmers and community gardeners. With a nod to the calypso, funk, soul, and reggae records spun at block parties and basement speakeasies in East Flatbush in the 1970s and ’80s, the workshop will pay homage to Caribbean roots while looking to the gatherings that keep this legacy alive today.

More information here.


The Museum of Chinese in America: Curators in Conversation: AN/OTHER NY
Thursday, August 2
FREE and open to the public

215 Centre Street
New York, NY 10013

Members of the Asian/Asian American artist group AN/OTHER NY will discuss their founding history and lead breakout conversations in an exercise of what Sara Ahmed in “The Phenomenology of Whiteness” calls “room-making”—the creation of a space in which to feel comfortable as a collective body. Using their own bodies as orientation devices, participants will begin by sharing personal narratives of diaspora. Conversations will be shaped around groups of 5-6 people to give space to each individual story. AN/OTHER NY members will mediate with prompts as needed; please bring any topics relating to race, space, and identity you have been eager to discuss. Snacks and beverages will be provided and conversations will be casual. Formed in 2015, AN/OTHER NY is a collective of artists, writers, and curators that advocate for Asians and Asian Americans in the arts.


Image courtesy Ken Gonzalez-Day.