Skip to main content Skip to footer site map


Citing Black Geographies presents the work of fifteen artists whose practices examine “black space”.

Citing Black Geographies presents the work of fifteen artists whose practices examine "black space"-a term describing the topographies, zones, scenes, and structures that portend black cultural experience.

Curated by Romi Crawford, a cultural theorist and professor of visual and critical studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Citing Black Geographies parses dichotomous and elusive notions of black space. The group exhibition includes works by Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones), Dawoud Bey, McArthur Binion, the Black Arts Movement School Modality, Nick Cave, Coco Fusco, Theaster Gates, Rashid Johnson, Tony Lewis, the Staples Jr. Singers, Tavares Strachan, Jan Tichy, Jina Valentine, Carrie Mae Weems, and Amanda Williams.

Citing Black Geographies will be on view at GRAY Chicago (2044 W. Carroll Ave.) from September 9 through October 28, 2022, and GRAY New York (1018 Madison Ave.) from November 17 through December 23, 2022.

Beckoning recognition and awareness of "signal black landscapes"-a term Crawford uses to describe spaces that evoke black cultural experience-the exhibition is conceived as an open-ended index of historical, speculative, and emergent instantiations of black space.

"Space, some will say, is not intrinsically racially specific," says Crawford. "And yet there are some locations and territories that read obviously and overtly as 'black space'-zones that have some connectivity to black peoples' lives, history, and culture. In this sense, black space is cultivated or fostered regularly and variously."

With works ranging from painting, print, installation, and drawing to photography, sound, video, film, and performance, the exhibition examines periodic iterations of black space. Dawoud Bey's photographic series Night Coming Tenderly, Black, for example, speaks to historical notions of black space, capturing seemingly innocuous sites obscured under the veil of night. Devoid of discernible architectural elements, the depicted spaces invoke the narrative of the Underground Railroad and the existence of freedom spaces that emerged following laborious journeys to the North.

Examining black space as a contemporary ideal, Rashid Johnson adopts an aspirational perspective in Black & Blue, a video in which he interprets the exclusive Long Island vacation destination of the Hamptons as black space and envisions the purported "good life" that has been rigorously gate-kept from black and brown communities. Using his family as the protagonists of the film, Johnson tessellates domestic scenes of affluence commonly associated with whiteness onto non-white figures.

Amanda Williams's contribution to the exhibition, Tulip Project, questions and reinterprets redlining, one of the systematic physical constructs that has historically demarcated black space. Williams will plant red tulips along parcels of land on Chicago's South Side to explore how social and political traditions create and transmit forms of belonging. Utilizing the ubiquitous flower, Williams redesignates spatial value in an act of remembrance of redlining policies that delineate black urban areas.

Additionally, Citing Black Geographies affirms black roots in the American South with a contemporary live recording by the Staples Jr. Singers, "When Do We Get Paid (In Full)," coproduced by Crawford and the record label, Luaka Bop.

Crawford positions Citing Black Geographies as an intentionally open-ended project. Reaffirming notions of black space while also challenging them, the exhibition externalizes black space as a concept as fictitious as it is aspirational, suggesting that it is not as clearly defined and fixed as it seems; that it is as liberatory as it is confining; and that it is sometimes not a physical space at all, but rather a pervasive and looming atmosphere.

More Hot Stories For You

Playwright Incubator PlayGround-Chicago Announces Inaugural Season
August 15, 2022

PlayGround-Chicago, the first Midwest expansion of the celebrated California-based playwright incubator, has shared plans for its inaugural season.

Comedian Maria Bamford Returns To The Den Theatre In November
August 15, 2022

Following two sold-out engagements, The Den Theatre is pleased to welcome back comedian Maria Bamford for five stand-up performances November 17 – 19, 2022 on The Heath Mainstage, 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago's Wicker Park neighborhood.

Cast Announced For Citadel Theatre's LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS
August 15, 2022

Citadel Theatre Company will open its 2022-23 on Sept 17 with LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, a beloved classic from Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, based on the Roger Corman film of the same name. T

League of Chicago Theatres announces the return of Tickets for a 20
August 15, 2022

Hot Tix is bringing back its special, limited-time only promotion offering $20 tickets to fall productions in advance. These special, limited-time $20 prices will only be available Monday, August 15 – Sunday, September 4, or while supplies last.

AVENUE Q, THE PRODUCERS and More Announced for Music Theater Works 2023 Season
August 12, 2022

Music Theater Works, currently presenting the regional premiere of Zorro: The Musical through August 21, is proud to announce its 2023 season of productions at the North Shore Center For The Performing Arts In Skokie, 9501 Skokie Blvd.