The Quiet Years

View of the exhibition “Black Is, Black Ain’t,” 2008, showing Glenn Ligon’s neon sculpture Warm Broad Glow, 2008, at the Renaissance Society, Chicago.

Photo by Tom Van Eynde / Courtesy of Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago.

Hamza Walker, curator, recently spoke with artist and educator Coco Fusco to discuss the ways in which identity politics are being discussed in the art world. As cultural institutions are pushed to make changes, many believe that identity-politics are returning to the art world--a ‘trend’ reminiscent of the cultural climate of 1990s. Walker and Fusco debunk this position and discuss how artists have consistently challenged the racism of institutions and how these efforts have been received by audiences. This discussion published on Artnews was moderated by Brian Droitcour.

“The scholar Manning Marable said that race is something imposed from without, while ethnicity is how identity is defined within the group. Because of the history of slavery and forced migration to the United States, there’s a particular kind of Black ethnicity that formed here. That history of racialization, subjection, and resistance was repressed during the ’90s as the art world became globalized and more privatized. The mainstream art publications were not paying attention, and museums were not paying attention.” - Coco Fusco