a hands on model to stop demanding slave labor under the guise of diversity
Black folks and people of color are out making culture, like we always have been since times immemorial. But white supremacist patriarchal capitalism has upgraded itself and once again our cultural production is capitalised on, while our bodies, well-being and communities are still expendable. Consumerism from the other side of the barbed wired fence is extractivism. Extractivism -bottling the knowledge, without caring for the people, leaving holes in existence- is what white institutions are almost irredeemably built to perpetrate, unless they have a strong will, purposeful practice and vigilant understanding of redistribution, reparation and rest.
From the moment you first contact the artist of color -in its pro-Black, pro-hoe, femme-centric, anti-academic, non-european, counter-colonial meaning- until our arrival back to our “home”. There are numerous ways we are subjected to gendered, racialized, corporative, corrective, institutional, financial, state and police violence. Too often, white institution’s approach to understanding these complicated realities takes a universal framework based on vague notions of diversity, rather than a targeted approach relying on inquiry, analysis, criticality, and reparation. Arts organizations implied in the holistic well being of the artists of color and our communities play a crucial role in fostering and amplifying our work. Those who do not engage in extractivist behaviours that leave us precarious and exhausted.
This guide is non exhaustive compilation of ways cultural institutions, public or privately funded, where people in places of curatorial responsibility are overwhelmingly white and/or light skinned, as well as spaces that utilise the white cube(/black box) as the display frame, can and should and will have to redistribute their material and immaterial resources when welcoming Black folks, people of color and our audiences. It applies to a wide scope of sometimes seemingly politically disparate settings, such as museums, community centers, galleries, parties, workshops, concert halls, URL platforms, universities, foundations, theaters, classrooms, autonomous and/or self managed spaces, online art shows, etc.
It is based on my own experience and embodiment, so it is fundamentally incomplete. Hit me up if you have more ideas on how to protect our presence in the white institution.
1. First contact (URL/IRL)
- Introduce yourself.
- Address what is the story of the institution in terms of supporting artists of color.
- Mention why you thought the artist of color’s work would be appropriate in the frame of a white institution.
- Contact the artist of color with an upfront proposal of how much you can... [Buy The WIG to continue reading...]
- Always separate this sum from any needed visas, luggage, transport from and to the airport both in the departure country and in the arrival country, accommodation as well as a per diem for food and transport.
- If the artist needs a visa or permits to come to the white institution’s country, please take care of the bureaucracy.
- Request their backstage needs.
see: weed, silence, water, warm beverages, food.
2. Preparation of the event (URL/IRL)
Securing the artist of color’s participation
In many cases, white institutions invite artists of color before having secured any or total funding. Although this is understandable, it needs to not fragilise the artist of color should the white institution not receive the funding... [Buy The WIG to continue reading...]
Chances are your public is really white, middle aged, middle class, able bodied, cis-gendered, and predominantly male.
Ask yourself and your co-workers why this is.
Actively reach out towards migrant, queer, trans and gender defiant audiences of color.
Listen to their needs.
Set up a quota for white/male/cis people in the audience. Example: 60% of the audience needs to self identify as queer/Black/of color. Come up with a reservation system where people need to declare if they are white.
Involve local artists of color in... [Buy The WIG to continue reading...]
3. Arrival of the artist of color to the venue (IRL)
The artist of color will have gone through the custom lines at the airport/station and will be stressed out.
Make sure to have a person with good vibes present to collect them from the station and take them to the venue, preferably a local person of color. The best option for the artist of color is to take a cab. We don’t want to be hauling our luggage through the town like maniacs only to be stopped and questioned by the police. Remember...
Offer to give them time alone and/or with friends.
Always have water available. We need to stay hydrated.
Always ask the artist of color if they need assistance with documentation. Having a coherent, consensual trace of the artist of color’s passage is the white institution’s responsibility. For many of us, access to HD cameras... [Buy The WIG to continue reading...]
5. During the event (IRL)
One of the important things to think about when welcoming artists of color and their audience is what kind of infrastructure needs to accompany the event. People that can come to cultural events on, say, at 4pm on a friday are people that are not at work/caring for children----> white people. Be ready to tackle these issues by proactively researching what are the structural barriers that exclude local people of color... [Buy The WIG to continue reading...]
6. After care (IRL)
Chances are, if the event was open 4 all,
that it was quite a taxing experience for the artist of color.
Make sure to make available a quiet space again for the artist of color to gather their thoughts, charge their phone/computer, take a nap, recharge themselves.
Offer to give them time alone and/or with friends.
Always have water/snacks available. White fragility and entitlement dry us, drain us, exhausts us. Soul and body nurture are needed after holding a space.
7. Money (URL/IRL)
Artists of color are often precarious, freelance and in different, intersectional levels of migration/transit processes. A lot of us have crappy accounts in banks that charge us a lot for transactions... [Buy The WIG to continue reading...]