By: Alina Nodrat, Celine Glennon, Elda Nesimi
Four texts that exemplify a theme of delayed justice include Fred Wilson’s Cabinet Making 1820-1960 exhibit (from Mining the Museum), Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller’s In Memory of Turner: As a Silent Protest Against Mob Violence, Ken Gonzales-Day’s The Wonder Gaze (from Erased Lynching Series), and Felix Gonzalez Torres’ Untitled (Billboard of an Empty Bed). Each of these pieces utilizes a visual technique of absence. Empty spaces are left within the work to represent portions of history—such as individuals, ideologies, events, etc.—that couldn’t be freely represented in conservative, elite art spaces. Thus, this collection represents an artist-led effort to bring attention to and redress long-ignored mistreatment of minority groups by turning their absence from certain historical conversations and spaces into a felt presence. Viewers of these texts are forced to acknowledge existing inequalities and power dynamics that aim to prevent minorities from exercising their voices to share these histories.
Namely, Wilson’s exhibition and Gonzales-Day’s photographs explore the torture and murder of Black Americans during the Post-Reconstruction Era without explicitly depicting these victims of these gruesome events. Both pieces effectively place a scrutinizing spotlight on white communities who derived a wicked form of entertainment from these events. This largely unaddressed phenomenon contributes to the modern dehumanization of Black Americans—an example of a prolonged injustice. Warrick Fuller’s sculpture and González-Torres’ billboard similarly grapple with widely ignored losses of human life in minority communities. Both artists aimed to provide a form of representation through their work to ensure that individuals affected by lynchings and the AIDS crisis (respectively) could not be easily forgotten by history, especially amidst a rampant culture of prejudice towards these groups.
Essay Link: Absence & Delayed Justice
Slides Link: Curatorial Exhibit