Kapwani Kiwanga: Safe Passage
MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, United States08 Feb 2019 - 21 Apr 2019
The MIT List Visual Arts Center presents a solo exhibition featuring recent and new sculptural work by Kapwani Kiwanga.
Kiwanga is a Paris-based artist who traces historical narratives, excavating and considering the global impact of colonialism and how it permeates contemporary culture. Her work is research-driven, instigated by marginalized or forgotten histories, and articulated across a range of materials and mediums including sculpture, installation, photography, video, and performance. At the core of her exhibition at the List Center is an interest in surveillance and the systems used in controlling the movement of bodies in space. Kiwanga follows the lineage of surveillance in relation to blackness in America, from its colonial roots in slavery to Jim Crow era networks of resistance to the visibility new industry and materials afford.
Kiwanga’s exhibition premieres a new series of sculptural works that take their point of departure from colonial-era “lantern laws,” laws enacted in Boston and throughout New England in the late 1700s. These laws, first passed in New York earlier in the 1700s, required any nonwhite person to carry a lit candle after dark as a means of identifying and tracking their movement. Kiwanga will also present an ambitious suite of 50 prints, sourcing material from the 1961 issue of The Traveler’s Green Book. This annual state-by-state listing printed from 1936- 1966, served as a resource to provide safe restaurants, service stations, and lodging for African-American motorists traveling across the country. Kiwanga focuses on 1961, a year at the height of the Jim Crow era in which the Freedom Riders, a mixed race group of civil rights activists rode public interstate buses from Washington, D.C. into the south to challenge the unconstitutional standard of keeping public buses segregated.
Additionally, the exhibition also includes the US premiere of Jalousie (2018), a sculpture that incorporates two-way mirrors, and steel that addresses visibility and movement in relation to architecture. Lastly, Kiwanga is producing a site-specific architectural intervention that engages Shade Cloth, an agricultural textile used in large-scale industrial farming around the world. Kiwanga has worked with Shade Cloth in the past, most recently in the US in the production of Shady (2018), an outdoor sculpture featured at Frieze NY last May.
Kapwani Kiwanga: Safe Passage is organized by Yuri Stone, Assistant Curator, MIT List Visual Arts Center.
Kapwani Kiwanga studied Anthropology and Comparative Religion at McGill University, Canada. She has presented solo exhibitions at The Power Plant, Toronto, Canada; La Ferme de Buisson, Noisiel, France; South London Gallery, London, UK; and the Jeu de Paume, Paris, France. Recent group exhibitions include the Hammer Museum, UCLA, Los Angeles; EVA Biennial, Limerick; Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin; SALT, Istanbul; and the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y Léon. In 2018 she was the subject of a solo exhibition, A wall is just a wall (and nothing more at all) organized by the Esker Foundation, Calgary. Kiwanga is the recipient of the 2018 Sobey Art Award, Canada’s most prestigious contemporary art prize and the List Center exhibition is her first major presentation at a US museum.