Subtleties of Resistance: July 5, 2014

“Subtleties of Resistance”
Free University at Kara Walker’s
A Subtlety or the Marvelous Sugar Baby
Saturday, July 5, 2014
12pm-4pm (arrive early in line)
Domino Sugar Factory
310 Kent Avenue at South 1st st.
Williamsburg, Brooklyn


Although Kara Walker’s A Subtlety or the Marvelous Sugar Baby exhibition has been well-attended and widely reviewed, the exhibition has also been fraught with a lack of on-site critical engagement. Some visitors have even responded to the work in ways that are racist, sexist, classist–adding insult to historical and present injuries.

On June 22, a mass gathering coordinated by and for people of color worked to reverse this trend. Continuing in this spirit, Free University-NYC crowd-sourced artists, historians, critics, anti-gentrification actors, spoken word performers, and more (from both inside and outside “professional” circles) to host on July 5 an interactive “pop-up” series of dialogues and performances inside the exhibition across the afternoon. As this was the day after a highly illusory national holiday and a day before the exhibition closed, we aimed for these interactions to be reflective, concrete, and forward-moving.

We especially sought contributions on the following themes:
– histories and current examples of enslavement and resistance
– the rise of sugar and other commodities under capitalism
– women of color’s participation in social, economic, and cultural life
– minstrelsy and appropriation in art
– counter-histories of the Fourth of July
– intersectional/anti-oppression art and activism
– resisting gentrification, displacement, and apartheid
– creating safe spaces in museums and communities


*1pm-1:30pm – Performances inside exhibition*
– Brian Jones – reading of Frederick Douglass’s July 5, 1852 speech “What to the slave is the Fourth of July?”
– Sofía Gallisá – reading in Spanish of Abelardo Díaz Alfaro’s 1947 story “Bagazo”
– Tracie Morris – original sound poetry

*2pm-3pm – Free U community picnic at Grand Ferry Park (BYOgoodies)*

*3pm-5pm – Workshops/dialogues/teach-ins at Grand Ferry Park*
– 3pm –
– Arts & Labor Alternative Economies Working Group and Tidal Magazine – dialogue on 1960s-70s artists of color protests; art and gentrification; and current campaigns, boycotts, and creative actions to change museums and cultural institutions.
– Coalition Moratorium to Protect Prospect Park, Crown Heights Tenant Union, NYC Anti-Eviction Network, and Reclaim Bushwick – roundtable discussion on resisting evictions and gentrification across the city.
– Lorraine Currelley – presentation on “The Failure to Address the Authenticity of Kara Walker’s Historical, Psychological, Socio-political, Spiritual, Never Subtle Subtlety.”
– Nicole Fleetwood and Sable Smith – dialogue on the #WeAreHere project, Black visual arts, and education.
– 4pm –
– Theater of the Oppressed NYC – introductory workshop to play essential games from the arsenal of TO, participate in a forum theatre demonstration, and engage in theatrical dialogue to investigate racism, sexism, and classism as they affect our communities.
– Ricardo Waldron – presentation on “Jamaica: The History of the Maroons and their relationship to the Haitian Revolution.”

*8:30pm – Free outdoor community film screening at Kent Ave and Grand St*
– UnionDocs will feature “Domino Sugar–1989” and “Third Shift