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PROJECT FOR EMPTY SPACE X FOR FREEDOMS

It is astonishing the lengths to which a person, or a people, will go in order to avoid a truthful mirror
October 31, 2018 - January 11, 2019

Opening Reception: 
Wednesday, November 7th, 6 - 8PM

 

Project for Empty Space is pleased to present It is astonishing the lengths to which a person, or a people, will go in order to avoid a truthful mirror, an exhibition in collaboration with the For Freedoms initiative. The exhibition was inspired by and takes a line from James Baldwin’s short story “This Morning, This Evening, So Soon,” and explores the themes that are still relevant over half a century after Baldwin’s work was published. Participating artists in It is astonishing the lengths to which a person, or a people, will go in order to avoid a truthful mirror include Amy Khoshbin, Bang Geul Han, DARNstudio (David Anthone & Ron Norsworthy), Dominique Duroseau, Kambui Olujimi, Kameelah Janan Rasheed, Melvin Harper, and Shaun Leonardo.

A public reception for the exhibition will take place on Wednesday, November 7th, from 6 - 8 PM at Project for Empty Space in Newark, NJ. It is astonishing the lengths to which a person, or a people, will go in order to avoid a truthful mirror will be on view through January 2019.

“This Morning, This Evening, So Soon,” was published in The Atlantic Monthly, in 1960, and later included in a collection of short stories, “Going to Meet the Man,” this piece follows it’s protagonist through a series of memories and reflections on the eve of his return to the United States after years of living in Paris. The protagonist, a famous Black actor in Paris, ruminates on prevalence of racism, xenophobia, and anti-multiculturalism in America; he is particularly concerned for the welfare and reception of his White, European wife, Harriet, and their biracial son, Paul.

As with many of Baldwin delicate and visceral short stories, the thematic underpinnings of “This Morning, This Evening, So Soon,” are racism and violence, invisibility and imposed identity, love and loss, pain and precarity, and, perhaps most importantly, the intersections of all of the aforementioned human phenomena. In It is astonishing the lengths to which a person, or a people, will go in order to avoid a truthful mirror, these themes are explored within a contemporary framework.

The collection of works is intentionally underscored by both the timeliness and unfortunate timelessness of what they address: the cunning and murderous beast of bigotry and pain still persists throughout the American landscape. And the gorgeous cycle of imperfect love, pain, and loss, still unfailingly reincarnates as it does in Baldwin’s time, and all of time.

It is astonishing the lengths to which a person, or a people, will go in order to avoid a truthful mirror recontextualizes the ideas in Baldwin’s piece to speak to a the contemporary moment of still divided American socio-political landscape. As part of the partnership with For Freedoms, this exhibition invites audience members to be politically engaged, particularly as the Midterm elections loom over the country, through interactions with various elements of the exhibition.

The For Freedoms Mission + History

We believe citizenship is defined by participation, not by ideology. Through non-partisan nationwide programming, we use art as as vehicle for participation to deepen public discussions on civic issues and core values. We are a hub for artists, arts institutions, and citizens who want to be more engaged in public life.

Founded in 2016 by artists Hank Willis Thomas and Eric Gottesman, For Freedoms is a platform for creative civic engagement, discourse, and direct action. Inspired by American artist Norman Rockwell’s paintings of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms (1941)—freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear—For Freedoms’ exhibitions, installations, and public programs use art to deepen public discussions on civic issues and core values, and to advocate for equality, dialogue, and civic participation. As a nexus between art, politics, commerce, and education, For Freedoms aims to inject anti-partisan, critical thinking that fine art requires into the political landscape through programming, exhibitions, and public artworks. In 2018, For Freedoms launched the 50 State Initiative: the largest creative collaboration in U.S. history.