12 Artists On: The Financial Crisis
As the pandemic continues to derail the global economy, artists share works that reflect on uncertainty, capitalism and racial injustice.
By Zoë Lescaze
July 21, 2020
The Covid-19 virus has sent the global economy spinning into a state of profound disturbance, casting the livelihoods of individuals and small businesses into doubt and leaving entire industries devastated. The financial impact of the pandemic on local communities, as cities and states slash budgets, and on the world at large will continue to play out in the months and years to come. For the fourth installment of our series T Agitprop, we asked 12 contemporary artists, including Torkwase Dyson, Tomashi Jackson, Isaac Julien and Agnieszka Kurant, to contribute works, most of them new and created exclusively for T, in response to this global emergency. Here are their pieces and statements.
Born in Houston in 1980.
Funded by the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, “Brown II” was meant to be a solo exhibition that opened in April with three public teach-in conversations with attorneys, advocates, historians and specialists in human rights, ethics and contemporary tech policy. I’ve worked with three research assistants — Kéla Jackson, K. Anthony Jones and Martha Schnee — who sourced archival images, documents and poetry for me to use in new works on paper with photo lithography and painting, and with Rachel Vogel, our copy editor. After meeting in person regularly since late January, we held our first video conference call in mid-March as the campus was being evacuated. We chose to continue the work by asking: How can the project be meaningful and of service at this time? We designed a research methodology ecosystem grounded in our conversations with people we’d hoped to host at the teach-ins, producing material for transcription, videos and stills, a social-media plan, interview documents of questions and images and a curricular outline to be made accessible through the exhibition publication and digital platforms well before the rescheduled 2021 opening.
We’ve decentered images of white violence against the desegregation mandate and instead highlighted imagery from the archives, both held at Radcliffe, of two Black women strategists for human rights, Pauli Murray and Ruth Batson. Every conversation informed the question structure for the following one, and after months of work, the manuscript feels as if we were all in the room together. Communities that endure systemic economic disruption, income disparity and targeted state violence are now experiencing the most damning effects of Covid-19-related school closures and financial fallout. So the history of schools shuttered by segregationists in defiance of the Brown legislation and the ideal of education as the cornerstone of citizenship have become even more important for us to re-enter now. I’m interested in the strategists’ visions of humanism that exist counter to the deprivation policies historically at the heart of economic disaster. It’s become something amazing — much more than we could have imagined.