Hannah Black

  • Go Outside

    ALL RIOTS EMIT A WORLD-HISTORICAL SHINE, but the George Floyd uprisings were extra radiant because they opened the doors of the world. The riots saved social life by proving that it was possible, with masks and moving air, to spend time together outdoors without getting sick. The riots reconstructed an outside of the home as they enacted an outside of capitalist social relations. Before the riots, even before the pandemic, it often felt as if life stopped just before the point where other people began.

    The opening of the outside was an accidental effect of the uprisings. Although the uprisings

  • slant June 10, 2020

    An Interview with Jabari Brisport

    This interview was conducted before the insurgency in New York City that began on May 28; in a brief update on June 4, Jabari added: “This is the city of Amadou Diallo, the city of Sean Bell, the city of Eric Garner. We’ve been pushing to defund the NYPD by $1 billion over four years, out of their total budget of $6 billion, but the situation is now moving so fast that it feels like maybe we should go further than that. I saw the proposal to dismantle the police department in Minneapolis; why not in New York?”

    ABOUT A THOUSAND YEARS AGO in experiential time, Bernie Sanders ended his bid for

  • Alex Da Corte, Stacks, 2016, dye, towels, wire, 30 x 33".
    slant April 17, 2020

    Basic Instinct

    THE PANDEMIC has prompted us to ask how, amid a precipitous decline in employment and massive wealth destruction, we can maintain or even expand reasonable standards of living. Some have advocated a universal basic income (UBI), a routinized, non-means-tested payment to everyone in a given country, a once-marginal policy idea recently brought closer to the mainstream by Andrew Yang’s US presidential campaign. In the rapidly transforming present, government plans to send monthly “helicopter money” to assist citizens during the pandemic have made the prospect of a permanent UBI more realistic.


  • Kandis Williams, Nathan, 2017, sublimated prints on cotton paper, copper wire, plastic, glass, organic potting soil, 15 × 12 × 9".


    IN THE MYTH OF EURYDICE, she dies from a snakebite while in flight from a rapist god and goes to the underworld. The underworld here, in Greek myth, unlike in Christianity, has no moral meaning. Life and death are collaged together: Even the dead have to live somewhere, once they are no longer alive. Eurydice’s wannabe rapist, Aristaeus, is a minor god, associated with pleasant everyday things like honey, cheesemaking, and medicinal herbs. Eurydice is hounded to death by the representative of home comforts: That’s her fate, and not hers only.

    Eurydice’s husband, Orpheus, is heartbroken. Nymphs

  • Senator Joseph McCarthy and Roy Cohn during the Army McCarthy hearings, Washington, DC, 1954.

    Clout Theory

    ROY COHN’S NAME ECHOES in the bleakest twists and turns of twentieth-century history. He was the executioner of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, McCarthy’s right-hand man, and later, Trump’s personal lawyer. He introduced Ronald Reagan to Rupert Murdoch. In a final flourish of his natural talent for living ironically, he died of aids, in public, all the while maintaining it was cancer.

    To the extent that collective histories are also the histories of the impasse of the psyche, Cohn’s desire, and his ambivalence about its public appearance, blew through American communism as a freezing-cold wind. In

  • Central Americans try to avoid teargas deployed by US border police agents during an attempt to cross the border between Mexico and the US during the first minutes of January 1, 2019, in Tijuana, Mexico. Photo: Josebeth Terriquez/EFE/Alamy Live News.
    slant July 17, 2019

    The Tear Gas Biennial

    WARREN B. KANDERS DIDN’T EARN HIS PLACE as vice chair of the board at the Whitney Museum of American Art through his good taste alone. He has also used some of his estimated $700 million fortune to make tax-deductible donations to support exhibitions at the museum. What successful enterprise has made this generosity possible? Thanks to the collective, years-long effort of activists, students, and reporters to bring everyday brutality to light, we could tell you quite a lot about Kanders’s company Safariland, which does a brisk trade supplying batons, handcuffs, holsters, and body armor to police


    THE MOVIE BLACK PANTHER was released in February of this year. The same month, Herman Bell—formerly of the Black Liberation Army, an underground Black Power group composed of members of the Black Panthers—was up for parole after forty-five years in prison. Black Panther grossed $241.9 million in its opening weekend, netting a handsome profit for Walt Disney Studios. Bell’s hearing was delayed and culminated in an unusually long deliberation period, but he was eventually paroled in mid-March. Fifteen other former Black Panthers remain in prison; some have died while doing time, and all have

  • slant February 27, 2017

    New World Disorder: Hannah Black

    FOR MANY PEOPLE, 2016 was the year that a fantasy of progress contorted into exasperation: “I can’t believe it’s 2016 and people are still racist!” This feeling of belatedness is always beginning to give way to the evident fact that the passage of time alone, in either personal or collective historical life, is not enough to fix catastrophes. For a wound to heal, its cause has to stop. Thus transatlantic slavery, to give an important example, keeps insisting on its unhealed historical reality. An optimistic astonishment that a Black president was just as capable of presiding over drone bombings

  • Adrian Piper, Everything #5.1, 2004, gold leaf on Plexiglas. Installation view, KW Institute for Contemporary Art. Photo: Timo Ohler. © Adrian Piper Research Archive Foundation Berlin.

    the 9th Berlin Biennale

    ADRIAN PIPER’S WORK Everything #5.1, 2004, installed in KW Institute for Contemporary Art for the Ninth Berlin Biennale, is a hole excised in a wall in the shape of a tombstone. A Plexiglas sheet is installed over the gap, printed with the text EVERYTHING WILL BE TAKEN AWAY. The phrase is adapted from a passage in Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s 1968 novel In the First Circle: “Once you have taken everything away from a man, he is no longer in your power. He is free.”

    The title Everything #5.1 suggests that the “everything” that constitutes a person can be continually revised and updated, like software.


    THE PHRASE IDENTITY POLITICS is hard to approach directly because it is often put to use in contradictory ways. One is the really existing identity politics of, for example, the Hillary Clinton campaign. We are encouraged to vote for Clinton simply because she is a woman, as the writer Sydette Harry described in a 2015 essay for the New Inquiry: “The prospect of a woman presidential candidate is depoliticized into an overdue payment . . . something seen in 2008 as a sign of moral weakness in Black voters [i.e., voting for Obama because he is black] is considered a feminist rallying cry in white