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David Kordansky Gallery is pleased to present Listening for the Unsaid, an online group exhibition curated by The Racial Imaginary Institute, featuring works by Danielle Brathwaite-Shirley, Anaïs Duplan, Nona Faustine, Jon Henry, Nate Lewis, Azikiwe Mohammed, Public Assistants, and Kiyan WilliamsListening for the Unsaid will be on view through December 19, 2020, 8:00 am Pacific Time.

If you are interested in purchasing available works, or learning more about a featured artist, please click "INQUIRE" below to email a member of the gallery's team.

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This exhibition brings together a group of artists, activists, and writers who partake in the impossibility of reconstructing an archive, while trying to archive the impossible. Together, the works comprise a record that disorders, reroutes, and transgresses the protocols of the archive that Saidiya Hartman describes in her essay, “Venus in Two Acts.” How can we, as Hartman asks, “revisit the scene of subjection without replicating the grammar of violence?” How do artists adequately render precarious lives—specifically, Black lives—often made “visible in the moment of their disappearance?” In this time of acute precarity, we felt renewed urgency to gather Black artists, at various stages in their careers, whose work renders the multitude of Black life and engages strategies for imagining counterhistories. If history remains bound to “dead certainties...produced by terror,” these works gesture toward a mode of archiving that exceeds the limits of record and fact, producing instead a narrative track warped by the “keens and howls and dirges” of the unsaid.


What are the kinds of stories to be told by those and about those who live in such an intimate relationship with death? Romances? Tragedies? Shrieks that find their way into speech and song? What are the protocols and limits that shape the narratives written as counterhistory, an aspiration that isn’t a prophylactic against the risks posed by reiterating violent speech and depicting again rituals of torture? How does one revisit the scene of subjection without replicating the grammar of violence?
—Saidiya Hartman 

 

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Anaïs Duplan
Ode to the Happy Negro Hugging the Flag in Robert Colescott's "George Washington Carver Crossing the Delaware," 2017
single-channel color video with sound
3 min 22 sec
dimensions variable
unique

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Poem Temp



It is a story predicated upon impossibility—listening for the unsaid, translating misconstrued words, and refashioning disfigured lives—and intent on achieving an impossible goal: redressing the violence that produced numbers, ciphers, and fragments of discourse, which is as close as we come to a biography of the captive and the enslaved.
—Saidiya Hartman 

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Jon Henry
Untitled #44, Crenshaw Blvd, CA, 2019
digital archival print
30 x 24 inches
(76.2 x 61 cm)

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Jon Henry
Untitled #39, Santa Monica, CA, 2019
digital archival print
30 x 24 inches
(76.2 x 61 cm)

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Jon Henry
Untitled #53, North Little Rock, AR, 2020
digital archival print
30 x 24 inches
(76.2 x 61 cm)

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Jon Henry
Untitled #29, North Miami, FL, 2017
digital archival print
30 x 24 inches
(76.2 x 61 cm)

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Azikiwe Mohammed
Black Receipt #5, 2017
sterling silver, gold plating, velvet pillow, and display case
13 x 8 x 9 inches
(33 x 20.3 x 22.9 cm)
Edition of 3

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Azikiwe Mohammed
I Miss All My Dead Niggas, 2020
gold, wood, ABS plastic, and nail polish
19 x 12 x 11 inches
(48.3 x 30.5 x 27.9 cm)
Edition of 3

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Azikiwe Mohammed
Black Phrases White Niggas Ain’t Never Hearda #2, 2020
gold, wood, ABS plastic, and nail polish
15 x 18 x 13 inches
(38.1 x 45.7 x 33 cm)
Edition of 3

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Looking at my Blackness thru the lens it is most often shown to me thru, my hair, led me to save most / all of my hair for the past two years. What does it feel like to not lose / throw away that which so publicly defines me? If my hair stays within my possession will I still keep the strength of a Black Samson, the strength all Black people need conjure to pass unscathed thru the most scathing? Does my hair weigh as much as I feel like it weighs? As much as the eyes in the interview room tell me it weighs? As much as my barber tells me it costs? How much is my thus far lived Blackness worth? Measuring in the cost of the haircuts is a fairer judge than I, but $1,000 a year is a salary for no one. After 35 years my Blackness is finally worth a living wage.
—Azikiwe Mohammed

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Azikiwe Mohammed
Approximate Weight Of My Hair From Birth To Age 35, 2020
bronze and kitchen scale
11 1/2 x 7 x 4 1/2 inches
(29.2 x 17.8 x 11.4 cm)
$35,000.00

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Why risk the contamination involved in restating the maledictions, obscenities, columns of losses and gains, and measures of value by which captive lives were inscribed and extinguished? Why subject the dead to new dangers and to a second order of violence? 
—Saidiya Hartman 

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Nate Lewis
probing the land 8 (robert e lee, after the fire), 2020
hand-sculpted inkjet print, ink frottage, and graphite
43 x 60 inches
(109.2 x 152.4 cm)
framed:
47 x 64 x 2 inches
(119.4 x 162.6 x 5.1 cm)

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Nate Lewis
signaling 45, 2020
hand-sculpted inkjet print, ink, frottage, and graphite
26 x 40 inches
(66 x 101.6 cm)
framed:
30 x 44 x 2 inches
(76.2 x 111.8 x 5.1 cm)
(Inv# NL 20.002)

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I created the Black Trans Archive to enshrine the Black trans people that are around me, but also to remember our Black trans ancestors who we have forgotten, and whose lives we have no knowledge of. It's not really to honour them as much as it is to just to have them in our minds, and to be able to remember that we have lost a part of our ancestry that could be very dear to us, and to make sure that we don't let it happen again. We don't want to be erased again.
—Danielle Brathwaite-Shirley

The navigable window below contains a snapshot of the Archive. By clicking and scrolling within the window, users encounter an initial series of questions which determine the parameters of their interaction and accessibility to the content, dependent on their identity and the levels of privilege they are afforded. Begin by clicking WE ARE HERE BECAUSE OF THOSE THAT ARE NOT below:

 

 

Danielle Brathwaite-Shirley
(WE ARE HERE BECAUSE OF THOSE THAT ARE NOT) / blacktransarchive.com, 2020
interactive archive
dimensions variable
 

​All are encouraged to explore the full Archive (desktop only) at blacktransarchive.com

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Danielle Brathwaite-Shirley
Terms and Conditions, 2019
polyvinyl construction banner
68 1/2 x 133 inches
(174 x 338 cm)
unique

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Danielle Brathwaite-Shirley
You Don't Have To Pass, 2020
polyvinyl construction banner
59 5/8 x 59 5/8 inches
(151.4 x 151.4 cm)
framed:
63 5/8 x 63 5/8 x 2 inches
(161.6 x 161.6 x 5.1 cm)
unique

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Danielle Brathwaite-Shirley
We Have Always Seen You, 2020
polyvinyl construction banner
59 5/8 x 59 5/8 inches
(151.4 x 151.4 cm)
unique

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If it is no longer sufficient to expose the scandal, then how might it be possible to generate a different set of descriptions from this archive? To imagine what could have been? To envision a free state from this order of statements? 
—Saidiya Hartman 

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Kiyan Williams
The Fire Next Time, 2020
soil on canvas, and orange fluorescent light
51 x 34 x 6 inches
(129.5 x 86.4 x 15.2 cm)

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Excerpt from Kiyan Williams's upcoming video How Do You Properly Fry An American Flag

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Kiyan Williams
How Do You Properly Fry an American Flag (Study 2), 2020
nylon flag flown over the U.S. Capitol Building deep-fried in oil, flour, salt, and paprika on vellum
flag dimensions:
4 x 6 inches
(10.2 x 15.2 cm)
framed:
16 3/4 x 19 3/4 x 1 1/2 inches
(42.5 x 50.2 x 3.8 cm)

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Kiyan Williams
How Do You Properly Fry an American Flag (Study 1), 2020
nylon flag flown over the U.S. Capitol Building deep-fried in oil, flour, salt, and paprika on vellum
flag dimensions:
4 x 6 inches
(10.2 x 15.2 cm)
framed:
16 3/4 x 19 3/4 x 1 1/2 inches
(42.5 x 50.2 x 3.8 cm)

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What are the stories one tells in dark times? How can a narrative of defeat enable a place for the living or envision an alternative future? 
—Saidiya Hartman 

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Nona Faustine
Legacy Of Lies, Jefferson Memorial, 2016
pigment print
30 x 40 inches
(76.2 x 101.6 cm)
framed:
32 x 42 x 1 1/2 inches
(81.3 x 106.7 x 3.8 cm)
Edition 1 of 5, with 2 AP

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Nona Faustine
“In terrorem,” President Thomas Jefferson, 2018
resin, nails, electric tape, and acrylic paint
12 x 8 x 13.5 inches
(30.5 x 20.3 x 34.3 cm)
unique

 

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These three banners for protest were commissioned as part of a larger set for Uprising: A March for Black Womxn, held on June 27th, 2020. Employing "techniques and aesthetics of urgency" coined by the artist Clarity, this set comprised of two large vertical banners, one "road blocker," nine portraits of Black femme martyrs of the movement, and thirty handheld signs, was fabricated over five days by over forty community members—led and art-directed by Public Assistants. All works, text and/or slogans produced for public actions are original and site-specific, to be archived immediately upon return. 
—Public Assistants

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Public Assistants
Your Liberation is Bound in My Liberation, 2020
acrylic paint, parachute cloth, and dental floss
58 x 139 x 1/4 inches
(147.3 x 353.1 x .6 cm)

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Public Assistants
The Atlantic Ocean, 2020
acrylic paint, canvas, and staples
76 x 57 x 1/4 inches
(193 x 144.8 x .6 cm)

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Public Assistants
Who Defends Black Womxn, 2020
acrylic paint, canvas, and dental floss
62 x 46 x 1/4 inches
(157.5 x 116.8 x .6 cm)

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We begin the story again, as always, in the wake of her disappearance and with the wild hope that our efforts can return her to the world. 
—Saidiya Hartman 

For more information about the artists, please click the names below for a digital packet containing bio, cv, and selected press. Select publications featuring the artists are available at our online shop; click here to visit. 

Danielle Brathwaite-Shirley, Anaïs Duplan, Nona Faustine, Jon Henry, Nate Lewis, Azikiwe Mohammed, Public Assistants, and Kiyan Williams

For the full desktop experience of Danielle Brathwaite-Shirley's WE ARE HERE BECAUSE OF THOSE THAT ARE NOT/ blacktransarchive.com, please click here.


A Note from The Racial Imaginary Institute:

This Viewing Room was organized in partnership with David Kordansky Gallery by The Racial Imaginary Institute. Our name “racial imaginary” is meant to capture the enduring truth of race: it is an invented concept that nevertheless operates with extraordinary force in our daily lives, limiting our movements and imaginations. We understand that perceptions, resources, rights, and lives themselves flow along racial lines that confront some of us with restrictions and give others uninterrogated power. These lines are drawn and maintained by white dominance even as individuals and communities alike continually challenge them. Because no sphere of life is untouched by race, the Institute gathers under its aegis an interdisciplinary range of artists, writers, knowledge-producers, and activists. It convenes a cultural laboratory in which the racial imaginaries of our time and place are engaged, read, countered, contextualized, and demystified.

Founded in 2016 by Claudia Rankine, The Racial Imaginary Institute (TRII) seeks to change the way we imagine race in the U.S. and internationally by lifting up and connecting the work of artists, writers, knowledge-producers, and activists with audiences seeking thoughtful, innovative conversations and experiences. The work of defining and changing culture is all of ours. Institute members curating Listening for the Unsaid include Sara'o Bery, Samantha Ozer, Claudia Rankine, Michelle Phương Ting, Stephen Wilson, and Simon Wu.
 

A Note from David Kordansky Gallery:

David Kordansky Gallery is honored to serve as a West Coast outpost for The Racial Imaginary Institute. As a multidisciplinary organization dedicated to exploring crucial and complex questions about race, The Racial Imaginary Institute is not only an indispensable forum for dialogue and invention, but a model for what cultural institutions might look like in a more just and equitable world. As admirers of the Institute’s mission and programming, the gallery was excited to extend an invitation to curate an exhibition when conversation between the two organizations began in 2018. The world has changed in unexpected and unprecedented ways over the last two years, and this conversation has evolved along with it. We are especially appreciative of the productive exchanges that have emerged as a result of its collaboration with the Institute, which have generated opportunities to engage with the work of important artists new to our program, as well as occasions to examine the roles played by galleries during a transformational historical moment.

All photographs by and courtesy of the artist except:

Public Assistants march images by Jack Pearce
Public Assistants individual work images by Jacob Robbins
Danielle Brathwaite-Shirley quotation from “This video game celebrates the stories of Black trans people,” by Otamere Guobadia, I-D.Vice.com, March 18, 2020