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On Racialized Labor: Tackling Whiteness as Management

Thursday, November 11, 2021
8pm EST/5pm PST
Panel: 90 min

Open Call Session
Organized by Eunsong Kim
Presenters: Paul C. Fermin, S*an D. Henry-Smith, Eunsong Kim, Kim Nguyen

*Capacity Limited to 40 Participants. The waitlist for this session is closed.*

Pulling from Cheryl Harris’ pivotal “Whiteness as Property,” On Racialized Labor: Tackling Whiteness as Management will present on the ways in which whiteness and the property form have become transmuted into the structures of management, be it in: the form of a centralized “command” within an arts organization, editing in publishing, alienating design practices, and the ways in which artistic institutions utilize standardization in order to discipline and defang non-white artists and writers.

From the session organizer:

While art institutions have responded to spectacularized racial violence with ineffective press releases and DEI committees, we argue that most are reticent to even consider discussing the power dynamics that situate whiteness and white approval at the top of the organizational force (be it in the form of the role of overseeing manager), or attempt to untangle the ways in which white consensus (in the form of standardization, vocabulary, and editing) work to discipline and punish racialized communities.

This panel will interrogate how institutional critique and analysis must come with and through an examination of how normalized work flows, management, and standardization also perpetuate white supremacy and anti-Blackness. As such, we will explore the ways in which white supremacy unfolds in the bureaucratic mundane, and the diverse ways in which racialized and uncompensated labor become enacted in order to fight against its normalization. As an interdisciplinary group of curators, editors, writers, and artists, we will discuss our failed, current, and ongoing approaches against the disciplinary forces of white supremacy. Our panel will culminate with a collective statement against the bureaucracy of whiteness, and the care we try to provide to each other, in the gaps, in the meantime.

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Paul C. Fermin is Managing Editor of Asia Art Archive (Hong Kong) and its online publication, IDEAS Journal.

S*an D. Henry-Smith is an artist and writer working in poetry, photography, performance, and publishing, engaging Black experimentalisms and collaborative practices across (and against) discipline. They have read, performed, and exhibited at White Columns, Basilica SoundScape, ISSUE Project Room, The Studio Museum in Harlem, and more. They are the co-author of Consider the Tongue with Imani Elizabeth Jackson and two chapbooks, Body Text and Flotsam Suite: A Strange & Precarious Life, or How We Chronicled the Little Disasters & I Won’t Leave the Dance Floor Til It’s Out of My System. Their first full-length collection of poems and photographs, Wild Peach, was shortlisted for the PEN Open Book Award and the Lambda Literary Award for Bisexual Poetry. Their first film, Lunar New Year, was released this spring.

Eunsong Kim is an arts writer, poet, and translator. She teaches critical race & ethnic studies at Northeastern University. Her monograph, The Politics of Collecting: Property & Race in Aesthetic Formation (under contract with Duke University Press), materializes the histories of immaterialism by examining the rise of US museums, avant-garde forms, and neoliberal aesthetics, to consider how race and property become foundational to modern artistic institutions. She is the author of gospel of regicide (2017), and with Sung Gi Kim she translated Kim Eon Hee’s poetic text Have You Been Feeling Blue These Days? (2019). She’s the recipient of the Ford Foundation Fellowship, Yale's Poynter Fellowship, and a grant from the Andy Warhol Art Writers Program. In 2021 she co-founded offshoot, an arts space for transnational activist conversations.

Kim Nguyen is a writer and curator based in San Francisco, where she is the Curator and Head of Programs at the CCA Wattis Institute. Recent exhibitions include Maia Cruz Palileo: Long Kwento, Jeffrey Gibson: Nothing is Eternal, Cinthia Marcelle: A morta, Akosua Adoma Owusu: Welcome to the Jungle, and Abbas Akhavan: cast for a folly. Her writing has appeared in exhibition catalogues and periodicals nationally and internationally. She is a recipient of the Hnatyshyn Foundation Award for Emerging Curators in Contemporary Canadian Art and the Joan Lowndes Award from the Canada Council for the Arts for excellence in critical and curatorial writing. She is a member of the arts research collective Asian Brain Trust and in 2021 she co-founded offshoot, an arts space for transnational activist conversations. She is completing her first collection of writings—a series of texts on alienation, art, and the long goodbye.