What does it look like? How can we reconsider home in the 21st century as we cross states and borders seeking comfort, safety and identity? Against the backdrop of a global pandemic, state sanctioned violence against black bodies, the CBVC will explore the significant ways black visual narratives respond to the dynamic cultural, political, social, economic and intimate changes that have forced us to (re)interrogate previous conceptions of blackness and home. Within the context of Covid-19, home is both comfort and host to multiple modalities of black disruption and displacement. The crisis has brought into sharp relief the ways in which familial and cultural ties of black diaspora are troubled and forced to morph when geographical borders, once bridged through the relative ease of travel, are suddenly restricted.

The theme provides a framework that enables us to both reflect and imagine. For example, how do we sustain our connectivity by fueling the diasporic imaginary when travel is no longer feasible and going home is no longer possible? Examples of forced migrations surround us in ways that are immediate and personal, evidenced in our students who were forced to leave campus and suddenly unemployed renters who face the ongoing threat of eviction. They also quietly predate the current crisis. Consider the ongoing gentrification of black and brown neighborhoods across the country.

Similarly, what does it mean when home is a place you can no longer leave? What happens to the sanctuary of home when it becomes both workplace, school and screentime socialization? What does it mean for black people, who have had historically to deal with unwanted surveillance from the state, to now host institutions in a space once considered a source of escape? As importantly, what space do we hold for black grief in this time of black resistance? To assert that “black grief matters,” as argued by the Armah Institute, is to privilege not only black interiority but the need to tend to its well-being. How are black artists taking up this call? How are they documenting forced lockdowns, shelter in places? And as the CBVC, how can we best support it along with the concept of Black Joy in Resistance? These are the questions we will be exploring in the Fall 2021 and Spring 2022 season.

Deborah Willis, Joan Morgan and Clarissa Santiago

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