People Browsing Books in a Library


Black Arts and Black Aesthetics

Feb 1 – Feb 25, 2023
New York
Exhibition Details:

Black Arts and Black Aesthetics

Feb 1 – 25, 2023


540 West 25th Street
New York


Press Release


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Above: Installation view, [action=query]: Black Arts and Black Aesthetics, Feb 1 – 25, 2023, Pace Gallery, New York

Pace is pleased to present [action=query]: Black Arts and Black Aesthetics, an exhibition organized by Kristen Owens, the gallery’s inaugural Wikimedia Fellow.

Presented in the library on the gallery’s first floor, this presentation is the culmination of Owens’s self-guided research into the Black American and Black diasporic artists who have been represented by or exhibited with Pace during its 60-year history. To mark Black History Month, [action=query]: Black Arts and Black Aesthetics will run from February 1 to 25.

The six-month-long Wikimedia Fellowship, which began in September 2022, was established as part of an ongoing partnership between Pace and Black Lunch Table, a nonprofit organization working to build a comprehensive and robust digital archive of Black artists’ stories. In 2021, Pace collaborated with Black Lunch Table to present a Juneteenth photo booth event at its flagship in New York. Founded in 2005 by artists Heather Hart and jina valentine, Black Lunch Table is dedicated to archiving and sharing the work, voices, and experiences of Black artists throughout history. By way of roundtable discussions, Wikimedia edit-a-thons, and other programming, the organization facilitates collective and collaborative initiatives in service of this mission

Owens, a librarian and curator whose interdisciplinary research, writing, and curatorial work is situated in African American and Black diasporic studies, is the Librarian for African American and Black Diaspora Studies at New York University Libraries. The title of her upcoming presentation at Pace—[action=query]: Black Arts and Black Aesthetics—is derived from several sources: the computational format in which data are edited on Wikipedia and scholar Carolyn Fowler’s 1981 book Black Arts and Black Aesthetics: A Bibliography, which, along with scholar Howard Rambsy II’s recent essay “Carolyn Fowler’s Black Arts and Black Aesthetics and Public Bibliography,” grounded Owens’s research as Wikimedia Fellow. Guided and inspired by histories of communal resource sharing, Owens has composed a new, public-facing bibliography for Black arts and aesthetics.

[action=query]: Black Arts and Black Aesthetics will function as a reading room where visitors will have the opportunity to directly engage with a selection of catalogues, theoretical and scholarly essays, and other key publications and archival materials focused on Black art and visual culture. Curated by Owens, these titles will include The Soul of a Nation Reader: Writings by and about Black American Artists, 1960–1980; Black Refractions: Highlights from The Studio Museum in Harlem; and Mounting Frustration: The Art Museum in the Age of Black Power, among others. Owens’s bibliographic text will also be available for visitors to read. In the way of artworks, Edge, Encounter #4 (Liquid a Place) (2022)—a work on paper by Torkwase Dyson, whose practice has been a focus of Owens’s research—will preside over the living room set-up, which will include comfortable seating for visitors.

This exhibition will be complemented by public programming organized by Pace Live—the gallery’s interdisciplinary platform for commissioning, producing, and presenting new live art performances, musical acts, and other events— as well as original editorial content published across Pace’s digital channels.

Deeply engaged with Black Lunch Table’s work in reframing the art historical canon, the Wikimedia Fellowship focuses on editing and expanding Wikimedia entries for frequently overlooked artists. Centering on Pace’s research library, a vital resource comprising over 11,000 volumes, the fellowship is supported by the gallery’s Research and Archives team.

Carolyn Fowler, a dedicated member and chronicler of the College Language Association and an Associate Professor of Black Literature at Atlanta University, began sharing her documentation of writings about the Black Arts Movement with students and colleagues in 1976. In the following years, Fowler’s project grew in scope—from 800 entries in 1976 to 2,160 entries by 1979—and her work was published as a book titled Black Arts and Black Aesthetics: A Bibliography in 1981.
This reading room and the accompanying public bibliography I created as part of the Wikimedia Fellowship are odes to Fowler’s belief in communal resource sharing and knowledge production. Inspired by Fowler’s rigorous engagement with Black artistic practice and intellectual thought, the format of this presentation—which functions as a reading room—reflects the warm, familial energy of a living room. This is a space for sitting, reading, listening, contemplating, and conversing as a means of furthering this engagement.
Presented as if they are the results of a computational query—a module through which information about Wikipedia data are fetched—the reading materials assembled here center the work of Black artists who have been represented by or exhibited with Pace during its 60-year history. This querying of Pace’s library collection is both an invitation and an act of devotion.

—Kristen Owens, Inaugural Pace Gallery Wikimedia Fellow

People Reading Books

[action=query] Bibliography

By Kristen Owens

This bibliography is the result of research into Pace Gallery's history exhibiting, representing, and/or collaborating with Black artists, scholars, and activists. Pace Library’s collection encompasses over 11,000+ volumes of exhibition catalogues, monographs, catalogues raisonnés, specialized periodicals, artist books, and related publications that help document the gallery’s past and present roster of artists. This includes an impressive collection of materials centered on Black art. The scope of this bibliography is limited to publications by or about the Black artists that have been exhibiting or represented by Pace.

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Kimberly Drew, Kimberly Annece Henderson, and Kameelah Janan Rasheed in Conversation

Instagram Live
Tuesday, Feb 7

Pace Gallery and Black Lunch Table present a livestreamed Pace Live conversation between Kimberly Drew, Kimberly Annece Henderson, and Kameelah Janan Rasheed on the occasion of [action=query]: Black Arts and Black Aesthetics in New York.

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People Browsing Books

Interviews, Essays, & More

Throughout [action=query], we’re publishing a series of critical essays, interviews, and a film that speak to Black arts and aesthetics on our Journal, with more pieces coming soon.

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About Black Lunch Table

"Black Lunch Table is a vernacular history archiving project. Our mission is to build a more comprehensive understanding of cultural history by illuminating the stories of Black people and our shared stake in the world. We envision a future in which all of our histories are recorded and valued. Organized around literal and metaphorical lunch tables, our roundtable sessions convene spaces for genuine dialogue on critical social issues. Our online initiatives facilitate the collective authoring, and expansive collection, of information pertaining to the lives and works of Black artists, allowing for an expansive and radical rewriting of history to include all voices."

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