Always, Already, Haunting, “disss-co,” Haunt

May 24- June 15, 2019

Curators: Nia Nottage, Gwyneth Shanks, and Simon Wu

In 1975, the Whitney Museum of American Art presented a solo exhibition of Minnie Evans, an artist from North Carolina whose drawings and paintings were inspired by visions that she witnessed in her dreams. The exhibition was curated by her longtime friend and advocate Nina Howell Starr. It was one of eleven solo shows of African American artists staged in the wake of activism by the Black Emergency Cultural Coalition, who criticized the Whitney’s underrepresentation of black artists and curators. Then, as now, Evans’s work escapes the terms such as “folk art” or ”outsider art” grafted onto it, instead producing its own internal logics.

 In 1991, Evans became the primary source of inspiration for the dance film Praise House, directed by Julie Dash in collaboration with Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, the founder and artistic director of the dance company Urban Bush Women. Zollar recalls first encountering Evans’s work at the Brooklyn Museum, most probably in the 1982 exhibition Black Folk Art in America, 1930–1980. Zollar and Dash’s protagonist, as well as the main character of Zollar’s theatrical work that inspired the film, is loosely based on their interpretation of Evans’s work and biography. Praise Houseimagines Evans as an important and, although deceased by 1991, contemporaneous creative influence. Evans’s work animates a politics of memory, inheritance, and intergenerational exchange that together create a haunt, a frequented place, across space and time that grounds the structure of the exhibition.

In 2019, against a backdrop of cultural institutions that are ever more eager to represent certain types of “fugitive” bodies,Always, Already, Haunting, “disss-co,” Hauntproposes haunting as a representational illogic, an embodied and affective practice that rejectsthe production of convenient or easily read narratives. Haunting aims to redress the historical violences, absences, and omissions laden in the trappings of institutional “diversity.” Instead, this exhibition foregrounds the social worlds that surround and orbit art institutions—the club, the park, the cruising space, the archive, and the cemetery—lingering on the desires, pleasures, and mournings entangled within them.

The exhibition features works by Julie DashMinnie EvansFélix González TorresGreen-Wood Cemeteryshawné michaelain hollowayNina Howell StarrAsif MianGuadalupe RosalesMariana ValenciaJulie TolentinoThe Whitney Archives, and Jawole Willa Jo Zollar.

The Kitchen, New York, New York, USA

Curated through the Whitney Independent Study Program

Photos by Jason Hirata

All That Can Happen

May 24 at 7:30 PM, 2019; The Kitchen, New York

Presented in conjuncture with the exhibition Always, Already, Haunting, “disss-co,” Haunt, co-curated by Nia Nottage, Gwyneth Shanks, and Simon Wu

Collaborating with dancer Mariana Valencia and DJ Jazmin Romero, Guadalupe Rosales created her first performance activation for the opening of Always, Already, Haunting, “disss-co,” Haunt at The Kitchen in New York.

Rosales’s commission, All That Can Happen, included a Go-Go Box-cum-vitrine of 1990s rave, dance crew, and club ephemera, materials that were donated to the artist by friends, family members, and her broader community in East Los Angeles. The piece, like much of Rosales’s works, also functions as a memorial to her cousin, Ever Sanchez, who was murdered in 1996 at age 20.

Her piece includes numerous snap shots and formal portraits of young people from East Los Angeles, and Mariana Valencia, performing atop the box, adopted their poses: a slow score that was both echo of the club and mourning ritual. During the performance, the lights in the gallery all shifted to a cobalt blue, and Jazmin Romero’s sound score—a mix of Rosales’s sister’s voice recounting the night of their cousin’s murder and club beats—filled the space, a sonic and optic experience that sought to transform the gallery into a collective site for celebration, conviviality, and mourning.

Rosales’s performance also included an appearance by the Klique Car club, who hosted a block party on the street in front of The Kitchen.

The Kitchen, New York, New York

Site Activation: Green-Wood Cemetery

June 1 at 6:30–8:30 PM, 2019; Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn

Presented in conjuncture with the exhibition Always, Already, Haunting, “disss-co,” Haunt, co-curated by Nia Nottage, Gwyneth Shanks, and Simon Wu

The Green-Wood Cemetery is famous for its elaborate private burial lots and architecturally significant monuments. However, its lesser expensive public lots comprise about half of all burials at the cemetery. As part of the exhibition Always, Already, Haunting, “disss-co,” Haunt at The Kitchen, Green-Wood’s Manager of Preservation and Restoration, Neela Wickremesinghe, and Director of Programs and Special Projects, Harry Weil, led a guided exploration of these sites. This newly commissioned tour highlighted the “Colored Lots," seven burial lots on the cemetery’s southern border, including one for The Colored Orphan Asylum. These burial lots were recently renamed the "Freedom Lots."  Over 1,300 are laid to rest here, making it one of the largest existing burial grounds for African Americans who lived in New York City in the last two centuries. Wickremesinghe and Weil presented this history of the cemetery based on their on-going research into the social and political history of the city made legible through the cemetery’s histories and archives.

Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York

Photo by Simon Wu

Rabih Mroué: Again we are defeated

Dec 20, 2018–Feb 23, 2020

Curators: Gwyneth Shanks and Allie Tepper

Again we are defeated presents a selection of new works by Rabih Mroué, whose practice spans theater, performance, music, and visual art. His work explores contemporary Middle Eastern life worlds and (geo)political material effects, drawing, in particular, from his experience of the Lebanese Civil War (1975–1990). In this installation, the Berlin-based artist focuses on the ways in which current violent conflicts are mediated through print journalism. What images are presented and what histories are occluded?

This work continues Mroué’s project of revealing and resisting the representational politics or images of war, particularly as such images seek to document or attest to violence in the Middle East and North Africa. Through selectively obscuring content culled from newspapers and engaging with the intimate and meditative act of drawing, Mroué offers his own reading of these events and another way of processing the everyday atrocities of war. Mroué has produced some 200 drawings and collages as well as video on the subject, in which he serially tracks the recurring impressions of conflict. When amassed as shown here, the works create an homage to the haunting presence of the dead.

Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

Photos by Bobby Rogers, courtesy Walker Art Center, Minneapolis