Colored People Time: Mundane Futures, Quotidian Pasts, and Banal Presents

Institute of Contemporary Art



Colored People Time: Banal Presents installation view, Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania. Photo by Constance Mensh.


Matthew Angelo Harrison, "Head 1.003 (Post-Chronology Series)," 2016, open-cell polyurethane foam, 22 x 22 x 17 inches. Photo courtesy of the Institute of Contemporary Art.


Matthew Angelo Harrison, "Bodily Study of Unthinking Groups," 2016, skull and clay, 41 1/4 x 9 1/5 x 9 1/5 inches. Photo courtesy of the Institute of Contemporary Art.

The Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) at the University of Pennsylvania will present a three-part project examining the history, present, and future of blackness in America through the work of Carolyn Lazard, Cameron Rowland, Sable Elyse Smith, and Martine Syms. Over the course of one year, ICA will stage three consecutive exhibitions, allowing the artists and ICA curator Meg Onli to build and respond to one another’s ideas over time. The project will commence with an installation by Martine Syms, grounded in her text The Mundane Afrofuturist Manifesto, and approaching the subject of black futures as one inevitably tied to past. In the second presentation, Quotidian Pasts, artist Matthew Angelo Harrison will collaborate with both the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and Monique Renee Scott, a specialist in the display of artifacts from the African diaspora, to stage an exhibition addressing the complexities of collecting and displaying objects acquired by way of colonialism. The final exhibition, Banal Presents, will feature the work of Sable Elyse Smith, Cameron Rowland, and Carolyn Lazard, who will interpret how the ideas from the previous two installations exist within the present moment. A publication will feature written responses to the exhibition, along with a republishing of Syms’ Manifesto.

Additional unrestricted funds are added to each grant for general operating support.