PRINT May 2019


Henrietta Lacks’s “HeLa” cells, date unknown. Photo: Dr. Torsten Wittman/National Institutes of Health/Getty Images.

THROUGHOUT THIS YEAR, the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania is presenting “Colored People Time,” an exhibition comprising three chapters: “Mundane Futures” (February 1–March 31), “Quotidian Pasts” (April 26–August 11), and “Banal Presents” (September 13–December 22). Conceived and organized by assistant curator MEG ONLI, the show addresses how white supremacy suffuses the everyday, perpetually reinscribing the history of racial violence in the present so as to hold liberation in abeyance. Here, Onli speaks with Artforum contributing editor HUEY COPELAND about the political and conceptual underpinnings of “Colored People Time” and how the ordinary is also the place of the possible. 

W. O. Oldman with masks and headdresses, ca. 1920. Photo: Pacific and Atlantic Photos Ltd.

HUEY COPELAND: Can you explain what you mean by “Colored People Time”? I’m particularly interested in how you think about it as a mode of resistance, because it

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